3 ways to keep active with your family this winter

January can be a hard time of the year. While the days are slowly getting lighter, the pink cherry blossoms of spring are still far away, and depending on the weather, the sun can set before 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

This makes it hard – as both a family and an individual – to stay motivated to move beyond the comfort of the couch and the coziness of a comforter.

Which is why we’re here to help!

Whether it be in rain, snow, or sun, there are many fun, low-cost ways of staying active with your family over the winter months. Here are three ways to embrace the great outdoors.

These boots were made for walking

According to Statistics Canada, the most frequently reported activity done by Canadians is walking. Fifty-four percent of households in Canada report regularly walking in and around their communities. So it should come as no surprise that often times, the best places to walk are those closest to home. Even better? Our communities are home to many beautiful spaces that are perfect for a weekend stroll with your family.

The Central Valley Greenway in New Westminster is framed by the Brunette River and a thick, lush forest. You would never guess that the trail neighbours Highway 1. The gravel path also makes walking easy for any older members of your party, and the greenery is always astounding, no matter the weather.

Photo credit: John Alexander Murphy

Similar to Pacific Spirit Park in the Vancouver Endowment Lands, Green Timbers Park in Surrey offers an amazing array of trails, many of which are nestled under the impressive expanse of a second growth, West Coast rain forest. Along its many paths are signs with detailed information on the park’s diversity of habitats, including marshland, lakes, and grassland meadows as well as the many animals that call the park home.

Lesser known than its White Rock counterpart, Crescent Beach offers amazing mountain and water views, especially on clear, cold winter days. Follow the gravel path along the beach to Blackie Spit and play a game with your group: who can be the first to spot any of the 200 species of bird who use this area as a yearly migration spot?

And speaking of birds…

Having a bird of a time

Birding is a perfect way to spend a crisp, sunny winter afternoon here in the Lower Mainland. In fact, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are home to a number of amazing places perfect for spotting and marveling at our feathered friends.

The Reifel Bird Sanctuary, located on Westham Island in Delta is an important location for migratory birds and a protected part of the Fraser River estuary. Over 300 species have been recorded in this area, with the greatest numbers during winter months.

Stanley Park is also home to over 230 types of birds. With Vancouver situated in the middle of the Pacific Flyway, the park is a great place to check out birds of prey, including bald eagles and owls, or visit Lost Lagoon to see the great blue heron colony.

It’s all uphill and downhill from here

A great way to break out of a winter slump is to spend some time in the snow. Sledding and tobogganing are fun and exhilarating group activities that can be tailored to different age groups. Whether you prefer taking it slow (pulling small children along a snowy path) or have a need for speed (sliding down hill on a sled), there are ways for everyone to have fun while staying safe.

Be sure to inspect all your equipment before heading out: check for cracks, sharp edges and broken parts. Bring along helmets for all those taking part, especially for children. Before getting on the sled, check that your hill is free of obstacles such as jumps, bumps, rocks or logs. Finally, make sure you have a system to ensure the runway is free of any other children before setting off.

The Fraser Valley is home to many great sledding locations, including McMillan Hill, a favourite for many.

Looking for other ways to get involved? Find more ways to get active in your community, here.