Tips on Enjoying Canadian Winters:

While out for my cross-country ski yesterday morning, I was thinking how great it was to be outdoors enjoying an activity that was fun and still getting exercise.  I call it my outdoor gym.   I got to thinking that so many complain all winter on how cold it is and how much snow has fallen…. really you live in Canada where it gets cold and snow falls, stop complaining and get outside and enjoy.  I find the more I’m outside the less I get sick, as I’m not breathing in the recycled air in the house/office.

I also don’t keep my house super hot as I find that going from hot to cold not as good either.  I must admit that winter is my favourite season after fall (when I can start bringing out my favourite long sleeves and cozy sweathers).  I love how I can see my breath and hear the crunch of snow under my feet on a cold winters day or just after a snowfall.

The key to enjoying the outdoors is to find the right clothing, if you go out in a “fashion” coat and boots, yes you will be cold when the temperature drops past -10 C with a windchill of -18 C or above as we had recently -35 C.  My advice is to ditch the fashion boots(unless you are going from a garage at home to an underground garage at work), and get a proper pair of warm boots if you plan on being outside for extended periods of time.  They will  probably NOT be fashionable but really who cares if you are warm – there are many companies out there,  my favourites are Sorel, Le Canadienne (these are a bit more fashionable) and Ugg, depending on your budget.  When cared for these boots will last you years, think of it as your winter investment in yourself.   This also goes for kids, if they are warm they will play outdoors for hours.  I really like the Sorels for kids, I have 3 children (2 boys and a girl), when they were young I always bought neutral colours that can be worn  by either a boy/girl, so my daughter never had pink boots, as these  boots were passed down to her brothers, did this suck for her, of course but she got over it.  This keeps the costs down, these boots rarely wear out and you can buy new liner inserts if you are finding they are getting a bit worn. Once my kids outgrew these boots there were passed down to friends and I kept a pair for myself so when I shovel snow(on occasion) I don’t have to wear my suede ones.

Next invest in a warm coat or snow pants/coat for kids.  This is import, again work within your budget, to find the best coat out there for your price range.  The warmer you are the more you will enjoy the outdoors for longer than 5 min.  A good snowsuit for kids will last longer and can be passed down.  Don’t forget to get a good pair of mittens and hats, remember mittens are warmer than gloves as the fingers are not separated, this can cause fingers to get colder faster, a balaclava is good to have for those really cold days that you can put under your hat for extra warmth.  You can also get a pair of shell pants or long johns under your pants, so that  your legs are warmer.

Now that you are dressed, pick an activity.  There are many outdoor rinks, or indoor at various arenas to go skating.   Skiing is an option both cross-country and down hill ,  as well snow shoeing or go for a walk in your favourite park.   Skiing can be expensive, however you can get 2nd hand equipment at ski swaps or a few sports stores will offer a buy-back program that allows you to trade equipment for new ones when your child outgrows the ones you bought.  Jus check with your local sports store to see what type of program they offer.   There is also the option to rent, but I find more time is spent getting your rentals than enjoying the slopes.  Snow shoeing has become quite popular, the snowshoes are not crazy expensive , you can pick up a set from Costco at a good price and take them to your favourite park.

I never gave much thought that others might not like winter, until I met my husband, some 20+ years ago.   He definitely didn’t enjoy being outdoors in winter as much as I did.  I did grow up in Northern Ontario where it was colder,  and we had more snow.  Then I figured out that he associated winter with being cold,  due to improper clothing even as a child.   I set out to outfit him with the proper boots, coat, mitts, hat, long johns etc, over the years he definitely learned to like it more.  He doesn’t enjoy winter sports as I do, but he does like to go for walks or take the snowmobile out for a ride. The kids are older now and will go outside if there is something to do, they are fortunate to have learned to ski, skate and snow mobile.  All activities they can enjoy if they choose for many years to come, even if they don’t find the time to do everything now.  I have definitely come full circle and the past few years have been able to enjoy winter activities once again.

What is your favourite winter outdoor activity?  I’d love to hear if others enjoy winter as much as I do.







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