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The last two years have seen an increase in outdoor play among many families. Whether it be bike riding or kicking around the soccer ball, the extra time outdoors could be the trick to helping all of us with our overall well-being. This may change for some during the winter months where one may see many families and schools opting to stay indoors from Canada’s frigid weather.

My wife Rachel and I have 2 very energetic daughters, Julietta & Isabella and we try to get outdoors as often as we can. We can see the benefits almost instantly in our daughters with improved focus, better eating habits and enhanced sleeping patterns. I have to be honest that we love to see them expend energy but more importantly we love seeing them take risks as they explore the outdoors and gain confidence and resilience by overcoming challenges as a result. An obstacle that may arise for many families is the cost of activities, so we seek cost-effective ways to stay active outdoors but have fun and stay challenged at the same time.

One of my very favourite ways to get moving in the winter months is to explore the various trails and green space around our community. The cold weather and icy conditions will definitely make things a bit tricky but all we need to do is dress warm and slip on some basic ice cleats. For less than $10 per person, you and your family can hike or run over ice and snow and embrace our beautiful Canadian landscape for the entire winter season. Another winter activity my family and I adore is skating. Most of the time skating in an indoor rink will have a cost, so we have moved our skating outdoors. There are many outdoor ponds and bodies of water that can be used for pleasure skating; we love them! Since safety can be an issue, we have found and use many surrounding civic centers that have outdoor rinks.  The best part is that they are all free and usually there is music and lots of other outdoor ice skaters. A great place to hangout with family and meet up with friends, especially during the evening hours.

The third and final example of outdoor fun my daughters and I really enjoy is skiing. Now skiing can become quite costly for an entire family to participate in together so we’ve had to be a bit savvy with how we navigate around our local slopes. We are always in search of coupons and discounts which tends to lead to times of the day that are not as busy. So this year we were skiing, more often than not, as a family on Friday nights. With extra layers and some hand & foot warmers from our local Costco, we were one of the few left on the hills on the coldest evenings. Getting outside this past winter was easier than most people think. You may just be surprised at how much you enjoy it and how it can bring people together.