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Checklist for a Fun, Safe, and Active Winter

December 11, 2015 by HealthyFamilies BC

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Checklist for a fun, safe and active winter

Whether you’re a fan of the snow and colder weather or not, there are some fun things you can only do this time of year. Resist the urge to hibernate inside all winter. Instead, connect with family and friends to play games, try new sports, embark on snowy adventures or take a walk around town to look at festive decorations. Use these tips to stay active, safe, and healthy.

Wear the Right Clothing

Stay warm and dry in winter weather with the right clothing and outerwear. For those living in colder parts of British Columbia, choose an insulated jacket.  For the West Coast, a rain-jacket is essential. How much you layer up underneath depends on your activity. For low intensity activities (like walking), wear multiple thin layers instead of one heavy layer. Look at the weather forecast (watch for ice, wind and snow alerts) and wear reflective items on your clothing, shoes, strollers, and helmets so others can see you when it’s dark out or visibility is bad. Get more advice here

Choose Your Adventure

The shorter, darker days of winter can cause some people to feel down. For others, holiday season demands can cause anxiety. One way to improve your mood is exercise. Moving your body will help alleviate stress and boost your energy. Being outside can also help; the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feels of nature can have a calming effect and help your mind unwind.  Try these activities:

1. On the mountain: In British Columbia, we’re blessed with beautiful snow covered mountains and hills to visit and explore. Try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing to work up a sweat while taking in the scenery. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are also great ways to get aerobic exercise. Make sure to wear the right helmet (read the info below!) and take a lesson from a qualified instructor if you’re just starting out. Search online for ski and snowboard hills in your area; most resorts offer equipment rentals and lessons.

Learn about programs that help people with disabilities enjoy snowsports. Sledge hockey and wheelchair curling are other ideas for inclusive winter sports to try. Check with your local community center, pool and arena to see what programs they offer.

2. In the arena: Nothing beats gliding down a clean sheet of ice, feeling the wind in your face. Whether figure skating, a game of hockey, or just for fun, ice skating gets your heart rate up and your muscles working. Read our list of different types here. Another idea, especially if you want to do something with a group, is to organize a game of curling!

3. In your yard or nearby park: Build a snowman or snow fort, have a friendly snowball fight, make snow angels, or find a safe, small hill for tobogganing. All of these timeless activities (provided by nature for free) will give the whole family plenty of exercise. If you live in an area where there’s more rain than snow, go puddle jumping or take in stormy views on a local hiking trails. Take a walk around your neighborhood or other areas around town to check out holiday light displays and decorations. Check out this toolkit for West Coast winter weather ideas.

Protect Your Head

If you’re gearing up to hit the slopes, organizing an afternoon game of pond hockey, or going for an evening skate, use a helmet made for the activity you will be doing. Not all helmets are designed the same. Here are a few things to look for:

1. Safety standards: Different standards exist for different activities. Check that your helmet meets one of the standards listed here for the activity you are doing. A helmet that does not meet these standards may not provide you with appropriate protection. A few key terms to note:

  • Single use vs. multi-use: Some helmets are certified as “single use”, meaning they are only designed to provide protection for one specific type of activity. Other helmets that are certified for more than one activity are called “multi-use”. Check the certification sticker on your helmet.
  • Single impact vs multiple impact: Helmets like bicycle helmets and most ski/snowboard helmets, are called “single impact” helmets. This means they are designed to protect you against a single crash; you need to replace the helmet afterwards.  “Multiple impact” helmets, like hockey helmets, are designed to withstand multiple impacts before losing their protectiveness.

Just because a helmet can withstand multiple impacts, doesn’t mean that it should be used for different activities. A hockey helmet won’t offer the same protection while skiing as a designated ski/snowboard helmet will. Get more tips on how to stay safe while enjoying winter activities here.

2. Fit: Make sure your helmet fits properly. Check the label and follow the recommendations of the manufacturer for how the helmet should be worn and used. Follow the 2V1 rule shown here.

3. Signs of damage: Inspect your helmet regularly for any damage and replace when needed. If you are renting a helmet, ask the operator how often their helmets are replaced and check for signs of damage that may compromise the helmet’s ability to protect your head.

Everyone can benefit from being active all year round. Don’t let the cold stop you! Get outside, be active, and make unforgettable memories this winter.


Related blogs:
7 Tips to Get Moving During the Holidays

Physical Activity in Colder Weather
Mental Health Benefits of Physical Activity
The Importance of Getting Back to Nature

Recommended resources:
HealthLinkBC: Seasonal Affective Disorder
HealthLinkBC: Your Health This Winter
Northern Health Matters: Stay connected and get involved to conquer winter!

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