This post is by OYS contributing writer Melissa. See more of Melissa’s posts here.
I. Hate. Cold. Weather. To be fair, I love the change of seasons we have here in Buffalo, and I don’t mind the snow, but I hate being cold for five months. I wish winter was just a little bit shorter. This also means that my outdoor activities are usually cut out completely or seriously pared down. I don’t run outside in the winter (asthma), I’m not brave enough to try downhill skiing or snowboarding, and I can’t do all of my beloved warm-weather activities when it’s cold and there’s snow on the ground (swimming, running, rollerblading, bike riding, etc.) However, since I had my daughter almost two years ago, things have changed. I have found myself wanting her to experience everything, and trying to give her any opportunity to get out of the house and have some fun, especially in the winter.
I love my outdoor summer activities because they don’t feel like “exercise.” It just feels like fun times with my family, and the physical activity is just a bonus. So I started to think of winter activities the same way. I do love the gym classes I teach, but that doesn’t mean I have to be stuck indoors all winter to get exercise. Below are my five family fun activities that won’t feel like an actual workout, but actually are. And most of the time, we are all having so much fun that I don’t even notice the cold, and if I do, a nice mug of hot chocolate after usually does the trick!
- Ice skating – Trust me, you don’t have to be Kristy Yamaguchi to do this one. In Buffalo, we have a beautiful outdoor ice rink downtown (Rotary Rink). I love going there at night when the holiday lights are twinkling and they have festive music playing. Oh, and it’s free! If you don’t own your own ice skates, you can rent them for a few dollars right there. This is a serious workout for your core, not to mention your whole body, and if you fall, you just end up laughing anyway. They also offer “walkers” for little ones to hold onto or if you truly are a first-timer.
- Building a Snowman – Ok, for this one you are going to get a little cold because you have to actually touch the snow, but it is so worth it. First, you need a really good snowfall with that perfect kind of packing snow. Then bundle up and get out there. All of that rolling and stacking will certainly make you work. The kids will have a ton of fun too.
- Sledding – This is probably the hardest “workout” on my list. It sounds all innocent and fun, sliding down a hill on a sled, but remember what happens after you go down. You have to go back up, trudging through snow, lugging a sled. No matter how fit I think I am, walking up a hill after sledding always leaves me winded.
- Snowshoeing – If you’ve never tried this because you’re afraid of those big funny-looking shoes, just remember it’s those shoes that make it fun and make you work. You also don’t have to own your own pair to try it, although we did buy our own after we realized how much fun it is. Again, if you’re from Buffalo, Tifft Nature Preserve rents snowshoes for just a few dollars, plus you get to walk through their beautiful land. Because the shoes are so large, you really have to lift your legs up high and out to the side to avoid tripping over yourself. It’s truly a workout, but relaxing at the same time.
- Snowball Fight – I’m not talking about a vicious war, I’m talking about just for good fun. Again, get your family together, bundle up and get outside after a good snowfall. Pack soft snowballs and start firing. All of the running, throwing, squatting to gather snowballs, and dodging makes for a heart-pounding workout, but you’ll be laughing so hard you won’t even realize it.
What are some of your favorite outdoor activities in the winter?