How to keep active when it’s cold outside!

By Oren Gersten, Pediatric Programs Coordinator, Brookside Community Health Center

The cold weather might drive some of us indoors where it’s warm and cozy…and where we’re likely to eat more and move less. But cold weather does not have to limit your family’s outdoor fun! There’s lots to do outside in the winter, especially when there’s snow.

Have fun

Winter is a special time for family activities like ice skating, playing in the snow, walking or hiking, and sledding. Snow can be a great source of entertainment for kids, so encourage your children to get out and make snowmen, snow angels, and snow forts.

Ice skating is fun, cheap, and can make everyone laugh as they try to stay upright on their skates! You can skate at the Kelly Outdoor Rink in Jamaica Plain or find a nearby rink here.

Winter can be a beautiful and peaceful time to take a walk or hike, and there are lots of options nearby including the Jamaica Pond, Southwest Corridor, Charles River Esplanade, Freedom Trail, or Blue Hills.

And when everyone is back inside, try some Healthier Egg Nog or just-out-of-the-oven Apple Dumplings to warm up.

Stay warm

The key to having fun outdoors in the winter is to dress for the weather. Here are some simple tips:

  • Dress in layers, both on the top and bottom. Make the outside layer wind-proof or water-proof, especially if children are playing in the snow.
  • Wear a hat – this really helps to keep body heat in!
  • Wear gloves or mittens, depending on what you’re doing.
  • Wear boots – or if you don’t have them, wear warm wool or synthetic socks (not cotton).

Stay safe

Cold weather puts us at risk of hypothermis and frostbite. Listen to your body and share these rules with your children:

  • If you start shivering, it’s time to go inside.
  • If your nose, ears, fingers, or toes start hurting, it’s time to go inside.
  • Drink water before, during, and after the time you’re outside.

When the snow comes down, many kids head outside with their sleds. If you’ve got hills nearby, make sure your children stay away from streets and steer clear of trees, fences, and walking paths. Avoid icy hills, and sled only in the daylight. Get more sledding safety tips here.

Try something new

Have your children ever tried skiing or snowboarding? Youth Enrichment Services (YES) in Roxbury exposes young people to snow sports, providing transportation, equipment, and education. Your child can build his or her confidence while trying out a new activity. If you’d like to learn more about upcoming events with YES, call 617-267-5877 or email Will Morales at

Remember that wintertime is about enjoying what winter has to offer. Watch for our February Healthy How-To article for more activity ideas to keep your children busy during school vacation.

What wintertime outdoor activities does your family enjoy?


What tips do you have for staying warm and happy outside in the winter?

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3 comments on “How to keep active when it’s cold outside!
  1. Alison Cella-Mowatt says:

    Hi Oren,

    Thank you for posting this article! The article is full of great suggestions for families looking for tips on how to stay active outdoors even when the ground is covered in snow. I agree that dressing for the weather is the best way to start. Everything is more enjoyable when your toes aren’t freezing. One of the winter physical activities that I’ve been engaging in recently is shoveling. As long as I’m bundled up right, I could stay out all day. And playing in the snow (building a snowman, shoveling, etc.) are all great ways to have fun in the snow while staying active. No need to hit the gym after shoveling our driveway!

    Thanks again,

  2. Clement Bottino says:

    A great article – thank you for sharing!

    My favorite winter-time activity is walking. When I have my boots, gloves, snow-pants, hat and jacket on, I don’t need to walk very far before I feel like I’m getting a workout! Plus its free, and its nice to get some fresh air when we’re inside all day.

    Happy snow day!

  3. Karen S says:

    Thanks to Oren for these great insights. I’ve been trying to dress more appropriately for the winter, and it does make being outside much more pleasant!

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