Winter Activities

I was interviewd by a publication Calgary’s Child recently (Jan 2013) on how to stay active all year round.

Here is an excerpt:

Getting fit outdoors doesn’t have

to cost a fortune


Don’t let the cold get you down. Get outdoors,

have fun and stay fit. Huddled in front of the fire

is one way to pass the cold winter days, but

Calgary pediatrician Dr. Peter Nieman says keeping

active all year round is an important element in

combating childhood obesity. “It’s important to be active

all year round, but especially in the wintertime because

that [tends to be when] we consume foods that are high

in sugar and carbohydrates,” says Dr. Nieman. In

addition to sugary treats at Halloween and Christmas, Dr.

Nieman sees an increase in carbohydrate consumption in

the cold, winter months. Higher consumption of sugar

and carbohydrates causes insulin levels to rise, which Dr.

Nieman says is a major cause of weight gain.

While skiing, snowshoeing

and skating are great winter

exercises, getting fit outdoors

doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Freshly fallen snow provides a

host of simple free and fun

activities you can do in your

own backyard that are sure to

cure your cabin fever and keep

the whole family physically fit.

Backyard scavenger hunt.

Freshly fallen snow provides a

perfect opportunity to host a

treasure hunt. Bury toys and

holiday ornaments for kids to

unearth then dig out your

summer beach tools and set

them loose with their pail and

shovel. Give kids 10 minutes to

run around and see how many

objects they can uncover.

Build a snowman. A longtime

favorite winter activity, rolling large balls of snow

can burn up to 285 calories per hour. Get everyone to

make their own version of themselves in snow form,

creating a Frosty family. Make sure you have some

carrots on hand for noses and pebbles for eyes. Dress

them up using your own clothing, such as dad’s old tie,

mom’s necklace and old kids’ clothes.

Snow angels. Spread your wings and decorate your

lawn with snow angels. Lie down in the freshly fallen

snow and move your legs in and out and arms up and

down, creating the silhouette of an angel. This simple

activity can burn as many as 214 calories per hour.

Snow golf. Just because your mini golf course is

Dig out a small hole every few feet and bury tin cans in

the holes, marking them with mini flags. Grab your

summer putters and have fun.

Go for a hike. An hour of winter walking can burn up

to 270 calories. Bundle up and hit one of Calgary’s many

walking trails. Take a camera and look for animal tracks in

the freshly fallen snow. Have fun guessing which animals

made them and look them up on the Internet when you

get home, or download MyNature Animal Tracks app on

your iPhone and identify tracks as you go.

Winter walking games. Turn a neighborhood walk

into a fun family activity. Dr. Nieman suggests getting a

pedometer and counting how many steps you take, or

measuring how fast you can walk a pre-determined


Outdoor safety

To make sure your outdoor activities remain joyful,

take these steps to ensure winter safety.

Wear a toque. “Kids lose a lot of heat through their

heads,” says Nieman. Always cover your head when you

go outdoors, even for a short period of time.

Wear proper footwear with a tread to prevent


Stay hydrated. “Even though it’s cool outside, you

still need a lot of liquids,” says Nieman. Pack a bottle of

water or a thermos of apple cider to stay warm and


Don’t forget the SPF. Even though you aren’t out in

your bikini, your face is still exposed to the sun’s harsh


Lisa is a health and lifestyle freelance writer. Her favorite winter

activity as a child was building snowmen using her dad’s old

work uniform. CCM

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