While getting outdoors might seem cold in the winter, there are health benefits. Getting outside and moving is the benefit of exercise – even walking daily can improve your cardiovascular health. The exercise increases endorphins which will eventually add energy to your day. The increase in activity helps improve and increase digestion. Walking consistently also has the added benefit of lowering blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, getting outside will allow for natural absorption of Vitamin D in the winter months, something that most people are lacking in the colder months due to the shorter amount of sun exposure.
Where To Go
Check out state and local parks for guides on the best places to go. There are often lists for which hikes are easy (best for toddlers or young children) and pet-friendly hikes. State and local parks often have low or no cost to enter, making it a budget-friendly outing. If you are new to the area and not sure where to check, ask your local neighborhood groups on social media or NextDoor for local recommendations. Often the locals or those who have lived there longer than you have a good idea of where to go for the winter.
AllTrails offers a free and paid app that allows for searching based on location, reviews, or type of activity
If you live near National Parks, these are great options as well. The NPS updates weather advisories daily and includes schedules of what parts of the park will be open at which part of the year. Also, for military families, visiting National Parks is also a budget-friendly option as they offer a free annual pass to military families called the military pass. Yup – 365 days of free admission to all the National Parks around the United States.
Even if you live somewhere cold, you can still safely get out and about if you are wearing appropriate warming layers. Don’t discount exploring the grounds of historic homes. If you have an annual pass to places like Mount Vernon, for instance, there are outdoor winter activities throughout the season. In the colder months, there are typically wood-burning firepits to get warm as well. It may require some hot tea to get around, but you can still get out and about!
Stay At Home
Perhaps you want to stay in your own backyard. If you have a lawn consider lawn games like ladder ball, lawn bowling or inflatable horseshoes. All of these are typically child-friendly. There are even giant versions of 4-in a row or Jenga to get the family today. Looking for a more intense game to test your skill? Check out Bocce ball or croquet! Even if you aren’t continually moving, the idea of being outside and moving your body is the goal of getting outdoors. If you don’t have a lawn, but have a driveway or a paved area consider pick-up basketball or even roller skating! Doing these activities when it is warmer in the middle of the day helps you keep warm. Or if it is too cold, some of these games adapt well to in the garage or shed.
Whatever you do this winter, you can be active in your local area. You don’t have to travel far to get out and do something. Even something as seemingly little as a backyard ball, or tossing a beach ball back and forth promotes activity and increases family bonding.
What is your favorite outdoor activity?