When it’s cold outside it can be very tempting to stay indoors, switch on the TV or computer and stay put for days on end. But your health and family relationships will likely suffer – and with the long festive holidays to get through it’s a much better idea to plan some regular outdoor activities.
Why the outdoors is good for you
In winter, it’s particularly important to get a daily dose of daylight. Being active outdoors will boost your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels and help to see off the winter blues.
Being active is important for cardiovascular well-being all-year-round but in winter it is even more important for maintaining good circulation and regulating a healthy weight (just thinking about all the extra festive food calories should have you racing for the door with your walking boots laced up.)
Mood and family relationships are improved by spending time outdoors together. Even just a short and brisk walk can lift your spirits and will burn some energy so that you will feel relaxed when you return home.
10 activities for families in winter
1. A walk a day: Make a goal to walk for at least 30 minutes each day through the Christmas holidays. Or give each family member a pedometer and set a challenge of walking 1,000 steps each day. If you set out a plan you are far more likely to stick to the challenge. You could even stick a chart on the fridge door and tick off each day that you walk.
2. Walk somewhere new: Get the kids to look at a map of the local area and choose a new place to walk. It could be a hill, a forest, the beach or a park. Having a new destination will add purpose to the activity.
3. Try geocaching: Checkout our blog about geocaching for this fun activity for all the family. There are thousands of geocaches to be found across the UK – and the chances are there are several near you. When the weather is not so good, hunting for a geocache can take everyone’s mind off the walk and the weather.
4. Jump in puddles: Don’t sit indoors looking out at the rain, instead put on your waterproof jackets, trousers and boots (hopefully Regatta waterproofs) and go outdoors to jump in puddles. If you haven’t tried puddle jumping before you will have no idea how much fun it can be! (Do make sure the puddles are in a safe place.)
5. Build an igloo: When the snow comes try building an igloo. It’s not as difficult as you might think and we have even written an igloo building guide blog for you.
6. Go snowshoeing: Another fun activity for the snow. You don’t need to go far, perhaps your local park or a nearby hill, to enjoy snowshoeing. Many outdoors shops sell budget style snowshoes.
7. Try skiing: If you live in Scotland, or you are visiting, there are five ski resorts to head to. Alternatively, find a nearby hill and walk up, then ski down. You do not need to spend a lot on the kit if you are planning on only occasional skiing fun. An alternative is to hire ski equipment from an outdoors shop. And if the snow doesn’t arrive, head to a dry ski slope instead.
8. Go hug a tree: Hugging a tree might feel a little silly at first, but it’s actually great fun and very relaxing. Go on, you need to try it to see. You could hug a tree in your garden, or the local park or head to a local woodland or place where trees are renowned for their height, history or stories. For those who live north of the border, there’s also a new Tree Trail Scotland initiative that has been launched with the aim of encouraging more people to visit 12 tree collections. At each site you can have a special Tree Trails passport and have a special passport stamped. The aim is to visit all 12 where you can hug a tree.
9. Ride a trail: In the winter, it’s better to take cover in woodland in poor weather so mountain biking is a great idea. Make sure you wrap up warm in layers (several thinner base layers are a great idea) that can be shed as you become warmer. Add gloves and a thin hat beneath your bike helmet for extra winter warmth. Head to trail centres where there are marked out routes. See Forestry Commission England, Mountain Biking Wales and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland.
10. Make tracks: Tell the kids you are going out to “make tracks”. This could be footsteps in the sand at a beach, or in snow or in the mud. Or how about spending time in the garden looking for the tracks of animals? You could take photos of these and then draw them when you head back indoors for a bit of warmth.
Tell us about your favourite winter family things to do outdoors.