Two boys prepare to toboggan

Why it’s important for children to play outside in winter

Every winter, as the temperatures drop, so does the amount of time we spend outside. This is especially true for children — playtime can become limited to the indoors.

It may be tempting to hide inside until the weather warms up, but outdoor play is essential for your children’s well-being all year long.

Here are some of the top reasons why you should get your kids outside and active this winter:

It’s good for them

Only 35% of 5-to-17-year-olds are getting the recommended amount of physical activity.[1]

Physical activity is essential for your child’s healthy development, and getting outside is the best way to get moving.

Child running through the snow in snowshoes

Outdoor physical activity is associated with all kinds of health benefits, including improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, bone density, and more.[2] Your children will also absorb some much-needed Vitamin D while they play.

Outdoor play is great for brain health as well. In addition to physical health benefits, physical activity also improves cognition, brain function, and mental health.[3] Time in nature can also lower stress levels and symptoms of ADHD.[4]

The indoors can become germ factories, full of bacteria in the winter. Getting outside introduces your children to fresh, clean air.

Snow is great for creative play

Outdoor play looks much different in the winter. As playground equipment is either frozen or covered with snow, children will need to use their imaginations to find different ways to play outside.

Kids making snow igloo

Playing with snow is a great way to have your child exercise their creativity. There are endless ways to play with snow. Build snow people, snow forts, snow castles, have a snowball fight, make snow angels…the list goes on!

This type of open-ended play can be challenging and fun for your children. It will teach your child to solve problems and use their imagination. This will be beneficial to their healthy development.

Discover nature in a new season

Winter transforms our natural environment. Your child’s favourite park will be completely changed by a layer of snow and frozen lakes and rivers.

Kid with bird landed on head

Let your child explore this newfound winter wonderland. Encourage them to watch for wildlife among the bare trees, and look for tracks in the snow from different critters.

Inviting kids to discover the wonders of winter at a young age encourages them to enjoy the season as they grow up. As they spend time outside in the cold, they will develop resilience and foster a fascination with the changing seasons.

There’s so much to do!

There’s certainly no lack of things for your kids to do outside in the winter. Thirty-one provincial parks are open in the winter, and offer a whole range of activities for your family to enjoy.

Child looks in sap bucket on tree

Snowshoeing, skating, tobogganing, or cross-country skiing make for a fun and active day out in nature.

How to stay safe (and warm!)

Proper preparation is important to make sure your kids have a good time in the outdoors. You’ll want to make sure they are wearing plenty of layers, and warm protection for their heads, hands, and feet.

Children cross country skiing on trail

Once they’re bundled up, listen to your kids for cues on when they’re getting cold. Head inside once every couple hours to warm up.

Healthy Parks Healthy People

Time in nature is essential for our mental and physical health. Learn more about Healthy Parks Healthy People.