The holiday season is upon us and with it typically comes visiting with family or friends, watching Christmas movies or reclining while digesting delicious holiday foodstuffs. This can mean more “sedentary behaviour”, a phrase which comes from the Latin word “sedere” meaning “to sit”, and sitting too much can have negative effects on our health (increases our risk for chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes to name a few) even when we are meeting the minimum physical activity guidelines.
This holiday season, break up that sitting time AND work toward those physical activity guidelines by being active with family or friends in the great outdoors. Not only will you be helping your physical health, you’ll be helping your mental health as physical activity performed in outdoor environments can positively affect characteristics such as mood and tension, which may be off-kilter at this time of year. Inspired by The Twelve Days of Christmas, here are twelve family-friendly ways to get active in the great outdoors over the holiday season.
- Take a holiday light tour by strolling around your neighbourhood and seeing all the festive lights and decorations.
- Try a winter activity such as tobogganing, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing. To learn a few locations within BC where these and other winter activities can be done, check out http://origin-www.hellobc.com/british-columbia/things-to-do/winter-activities.aspx
- Make snow people or a sandcastle, play hide-and-seek or tag or try an age- or family-specific activity.
- Setup an outdoor scavenger hunt by having all family members come up with items or clues which can be found or solved through exploring your neighbourhood.
- Check out a local holiday event, like the Vancouver Christmas Market, The Magic of Christmas at Butchart Gardens and Railway and Forestry Museum Celebration of Lights.
- Go on a winter picnic to your local park or one that you have yet to visit. Pack items to keep you toasty inside (i.e., hot cocoa) and out (i.e., scarves and mittens) so you can experience the natural playground comfortably.
- Head to an outdoor rink, lace up your skates, don’t forget your helmet, and hit the ice. Here are a few outdoor skating rinks within BC https://www.bcmag.ca/10-awesome-outdoor-skating-rinks/
- Go on a photo safari by making a list of holiday-specific (i.e., a wreath) and/or everyday items and taking a snapshot of as many of the items you can find around your neighbourhood. You could even print the photos and make an album or collage for a keepsake.
- Having a large family gathering? Setup a friendly game of soccer, volleyball, road hockey, or whatever tickles your family’s fancy.
- Use active transportation, meaning your own power to get from one place to another (i.e., walking or biking), to pick up last minute items from the grocery store or shopping mall.
- Buy a family member an active gift, such as a basketball or hockey stick or glove and ball, then make use of that gift together.
- Create a Christmas Day physical activity tradition, such as going for a bike ride before opening gifts or a walk to burn off your Christmas feast.
Don’t take a holiday from physical activity this holiday season, the best gift you can give yourself and your family is a healthier mind and body.