Let it Snow! Health Benefits and Activity Ideas to Get the Family Outdoors

By Anne Peters, LMFT

It comes without surprise – it looks like winter outside! It’s so common this time of year to feel cooped up inside. The excitement of the holidays has passed, and now we settle into the coldest time of year. But there are so many benefits to both us and our children to get outside and PLAY!

What are some of these benefits? First of all, being outdoors boosts our energy. A study suggests that spending just 20 minutes outdoors gives your brain an energy boost comparable to a cup of coffee (and we all need that, right?). Secondly, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) hits hard during this time of year for many of us. Did you know spending some time outside, even in the winter, can help combat those effects? Finally, the chance to get outside with our kiddos makes for a wonderful opportunity for connection. This is a great time to make some memories. Here are a couple of ideas for activities you can do with your family outside!

1. Go for a snowy hike: If you have a favorite path you take during the summer, I encourage you to get out and explore it during the winter. Otherwise, pick a new place to explore, bundle up, and pack your sleds in case you come across the perfect sledding hill.

2. Build a snowman: Is there a more classic winter activity than building a snowman? Here’s a fun twist: Make no rules when it comes to your snowman! Do you want to build the biggest snowman you can? Do you want to build a tiny snowman family? A snowcat, even? The opportunities are endless. When I was a child, my friend’s dad built a giant bunny in the snow. This was probably at least 20 years ago, and I still vividly remember that memory.

3. Snow painting: Get some spray bottles, fill with water, and add a few drops of food coloring. That’s it! Then encourage your children to decorate your backyard or your snowman with some super fun colors.

4. Shovel for a neighbor: We know children seem to have an abundance of energy. Use some of that energy and teach them about acts of kindness by shoveling a neighbor’s driveway for them. You and your children can work as a team and talk with them about the importance of caring for one another. What a beautiful experience that would be.

Enjoy the snow! What’s your favorite winter activity?

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