Low-Cost, Family-Friendly Outdoor Winter Activities

January 3, 2014

Baby, it’s cold outside! But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun outdoors. Whether you live in a sunny or snowy locale, there’s sure to be an idea on this list that’s perfect for you and your family to do together. And best of all, these ideas are inexpensive—and many are even free!

Play in the snow

If you live somewhere where there’s snow, take advantage! Bundle up and go be active outdoors. Here are some simple ideas:

  • Make snowmen. Be sure to gather dark rocks for eyes and button details, sticks for arms, a carrot for the nose, and perhaps even a scarf for decoration (snowmen get chilly, too!).
  • Make maple snow candy. Click here for an easy recipe.
  • See what else you can make with snow! Older kids can build a snow fort, while younger children may prefer to make snow angels.

 

Get in touch with nature

Not every animal hibernates during the winter, nor do all birds fly south. Go outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature!

  • Go bird-watching. It’s especially easy to see birds when there are fewer leaves on the trees. Find out what types of birds visit your area during the winter. Go for a walk and see if you can spot and identify any birds. Here is a reference that can help you identify the types of birds you’re seeing.
  • Check out animal tracks. If it snowed recently, and you live in an area where animals roam, you may be able to spot some tracks in the snow. See if you can identify any deer, rabbit, squirrel, or raccoon tracks around your property. This guide can help you identify what tracks you’re seeing.
  • Make a bird feeder for the backyard. Put out a tasty treat for your feathered friends. There are many types of bird feeders you can make using materials you already have around your home. Check out these easy, inexpensive ideas.
  • Take a walk. Enjoy the winter wonderland around you—the smells of cozy fires burning in people’s fireplaces, the winter sights (majestic pine trees, deer walking through fields, and many more), and the crisp, clean air.
  • Take pictures of snowy landscapes. Although snow and ice isn’t fun to scrape off your car, it looks beautiful on trees and rooftops. Capture the winter scenery with your camera!

 

Kindnesses

Consider taking a little time out of your day to do something nice for a neighbor or friend who lives nearby. It’ll bring a little cheer to their day, and it’ll make you feel good, too!

  • Shoveling a friend’s driveway or sidewalk. Shoveling snow is good exercise that engages many muscles. Plus, keeping sidewalks and driveways clear of snow and ice can also help prevent falls.
  • Raking a neighbor’s leaves. This, too, is a good source of exercise, and it helps make the neighborhood look nicer.
  • Volunteer. Visit your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter and lend a helping hand. Shelters and soup kitchens are often more crowded when the weather is cold, so an extra volunteer will surely be appreciated!
  • Give animals some love, too. See if your local animal shelter needs volunteers, or offer to walk your neighbor’s dogs.

 

For more healthy, low-cost tips and ideas, be sure to check out the Healthcare Survival Guide!

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Keeping Healthy & Safe this Winter

January 26, 2011

If you live in the northeastern part of the U.S., then you’re used to cold, blustery winters. But no matter how accustomed you may have become, there’s no denying that this winter has been particularly brutal. Precipitation has been heavy and frequent (some areas can expect even more snow tonight), while temperatures have dipped well below zero in some areas, prompting schools across at least four states to close on Monday. Being experienced northeasterners, you have a good idea of how to deal with these conditions. However, you could be at risk for more things than you’ve considered. And it doesn’t hurt to cover all of the bases, so here is a brief list of strategies to counteract the perils of winter.

1. Basics – Keep warm. If you have to go outside, dress in many layers of light clothing rather than a few layers of heavy clothing. Your body will heat the air that is trapped in between each layer of clothing. This will help you to retain warmth. Stay clean by washing your hands often and keep sanitizers handy. And although you may be tempted to indulge with comfort foods, it’s still possible to have warm, hearty meals without compromising a healthy diet. Don’t forget to exercise. Although these four things are obvious, they are still very important in building and/or maintaining a strong immune system.

2. Shoveling Did you know shoveling can be dangerous to your health? In this month’s American Journal of Emergency Medicine is a study revealing that over 11,000 people are hospitalized each year for accidents related to shoveling. These injuries occurred due to a variety of reasons, including excessive weight lifting and the slippery conditions. To help, you can use a lighter shovel to limit heavy lifting, wear snow boots to avoid falls, and stretch beforehand. It is also important to note that it may not be a good idea to shovel if you have heart problems.

3. Take Care of Your Eyes – Lesley Alderman of the New York Times reports that snow reflects about 80% of sun’s rays, making sunglasses just as necessary during winter as they are during the summer. Make sure that they are protective against ultraviolet rays, as overexposure to such can lead to cancer, cataracts or blindness.

If you have any additional advice on how to keep healthy and safe during the winter, feel free to comment below!