Many people dread the thought of being out in the cold during the winter season, other people (like me!) are actually having real fun and enjoying the tremendous benefits being outdoors. Taking a winter walk is a great way to get out and explore new areas and boost your mood during the colder months.
When I was a teacher, it blew my mind that the school I taught at had a rule that kids couldn’t go outside for recess if the temperature was below 45°! I’m not kidding and basically, what this leads to is kids being parked in front of a TV for recess day after day instead of getting outside.
At first, it might not seem like a great idea to head out to recess or take a walk in the cold with your kids. I mean, they might catch some dreadful cold or something! (I kid!) But what really happens, especially in schools, is that kids are confined in closed spaces with a lot of other kids that are carrying germs and colds and the flu and everyone gets each other sick over and over again. Science tells us that cold weather doesn’t actually make us sick. While it can exacerbate the spread of some germs it really boils down to proper hygiene. If you are regularly washing your hands and are not immuno-compromised you shouldn’t suffer any ill-effects from going out in the cold.
I will always be an advocate for going outside and enjoying nature with your family and taking your kids for a winter walk is a great way to do that. Of course, you should take precautions and ensure that your kids are always warmly dressed and ready to venture out in the cool weather but let’s first explore the reasons you should take your kids outside this winter.
5 Reasons to Take Your Kids Outside for a Winter Walk
- It improves their overall wellbeing. The fresh air that you encounter when you go out during the cooler winter season is a welcome diversion from the hot, stuffy air we often breathe when we are cooped up inside the house. Fresh air is good for our health as it boosts circulation in our bodies. Being outside also provides a chance to soak up some much-needed vitamin D. As many as 45% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency and your body will experience the benefits in as little as 13 minutes of sun exposure three times a week.
- A walk in the cold can cure the winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 1 in 6 people. While it is more common in teens and adults, kids can experience the winter blues, too. Spending too much time indoors can be tough, especially if your kids are the energetic type who love the outdoors. They might feel trapped in the house and a quick walk around the neighborhood is always a welcome change, irrespective of the weather. A good walk in the cool weather serves to increase the adrenaline and endorphin levels and these are responsible for making us become happier people.
- Being outside helps us to appreciate nature. Kids love the sunshine in the summer and it’s easy to get them outside. When winter comes temperatures drop, daylight fades quickly and we tend to keep kids indoors more until the weather becomes warm again. This limits their capacity to experience first-hand how nature and the environment changes over time. By taking them out for a winter walk, they are able to appreciate the changes nature undergoes. They get to see how leaves could turn from green in the summer to fallen, dry and covered in snow in the winter. They can also see acorns and berries and nests are more visible in trees which opens up a discussion about animal habitats and food sources.
- A winter walk can be a learning opportunity. Take the opportunity to turn a winter walk into a learning moment for kids and adults. If you live in a place near the woods where some animals can be found, this creates the opportunity to talk about animals that thrive in the colder weather, which animals hibernate and what happens to animals when it is cold or snow falls. The changing landscape can also provide an opportunity for new observations. Just last week our son spotted some squirrel nests that were normally covered by the leaves. We also often find mushrooms, pinecones and all kinds of natural treasures. When the snow falls we are also provided with the opportunity to observe animal tracks. You might be surprised to find yourself learning a thing or two as well. Try this winter scavenger hunt activity for a fun learning experience.
- Cold leads to the development of our senses. Some scientific studies show that cold promotes better brain function. The senses of smell, listening, sight and even feeling could be amplified by the cold. This will enable you to create a deeper connection with your kids and probably have better conversations when you take a stroll in the cool weather outside.
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