How to Enjoy the Outdoors During the Winter

Shoveling is part of life in Upstate New York. For one day, ditch your snow blower and plow and try to remove the snow the old-fashioned way. Many feel rejuvenated after doing that. You get fresh air and exercise at the same time.
Shoveling is part of life in Upstate New York. For one day, ditch your snow blower and plow and try to remove the snow the old-fashioned way. Many feel rejuvenated after doing that. You get fresh air and exercise at the same time.

By Melissa Stefanec

An act as simple as maintaining a birdfeeder can get you outside.
An act as simple as maintaining a birdfeeder can get you outside.

Attitude can make or break just about anything in life, and the cold winter months are no exception. Sometimes, the snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice, slush and blustery wind make enjoying time outdoors feel impossible. However, fresh air and outdoor activity are just as important in the winter as they are in the summer.

Getting outside during the winter can boost one’s mental and physical health. Assuming a healthy attitude about outdoor activities can be just what the doctor (and therapist) ordered. If you’re looking to get outdoors more this winter, try some of these tips. Your mind, body and soul will thank you.

Shovel the snow — Many people rely on snow blowers and plows to maintain their properties but making yourself shovel can be rejuvenating. If you have the time to shovel, reframe doing so as an opportunity for fresh air and great exercise.

Capitalize on thaws — When the weather warms, take advantage of it. Mother nature doesn’t build all winter days equally. When the temperature rises, take advantage of it. Head outside and play, bike, run or walk. A warm winter day spent outdoors is never wasted.

Look for winter festivals — Lots of organizations host festivals during the winter. Whether it’s 5k runs, bonfires, sleigh rides, chili cook-offs or snow sculpting, there are winter events that rival their summer counterparts for outdoor fun. Read your local mailings or follow local businesses and organizations on social media to stay in-the-know.

Use our state and county parks —Our state and county parks offer a range of activities to Central New Yorkers. If you follow your favorite parks on social media or ask for their event calendars, you will be presented with a wealth of winter activities, most of them free of charge.

Look for rentals — Lots of municipalities and not-for-profits offer winter equipment rentals such as skis, snowboards and snowshoes. Rentals are a great way to try out a winter sport without spending a lot of money. Call your local chamber of commerce or follow local venues on social media to find out where you can rent equipment and get in on the fun.

Go for a walk — Plenty of communities maintain sidewalks on their main streets. After the plows have time to do their good work, don’t be afraid to go out for winter walks. Walking in the winter sunshine has a way of raising one’s spirit.

Maintain a bird feeder ­ An act as simple as maintaining a birdfeeder can get you outside. When the birds start showing up in their winter plumage, you won’t mind trekking out into the elements to restock their seed.

This year, try getting your grill out in the light of the snow. And start grilling.
This year, try getting your grill out in the light of the snow. And start grilling.

Winter barbecue — Most of us make our grills spend the winter months in a dark storage. This year, try getting your grill out in the light of the snow. Grilling makes you get outside, but it also has the added benefit of giving you something warm to cozy up to while you brave the elements.

Hiking — Throughout Central New York, plenty of people hit walking trails despite the snow. If it’s more comfortable for you, find trails that are well traveled. Just make sure you wear footwear with solid tread or have ice cleats or crampons. Don’t let the ice stop you from stretching your legs.

Running — Yes, people actually run in the winter. It can be a great way to maintain an exercise routine. If you choose to run during the winter, run during daylight hours, wear bright colors or reflective clothing and be mindful of ice.

Find an outdoor buddy — Almost everything in life is better with a friend. Find someone who will push you to get outdoors in the winter. It’s harder to say no to an obligation with a friend than to talk yourself out something that’s good for you.

Now that you have some tips and tricks, don’t be afraid to brave the winter elements and refuel in the fresh air.

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