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Fitness and family health

February 06, 2014

Get outside for affordable winter fun

You can hide indoors from Old Man Winter, or you can make the most of Canada’s signature season — and you can do it within your budget.

For many of us, the winter months are a time for hot chocolate, movies on TV and snowy sights admired from the warm side of the window — anything to keep us from having to bundle up and brave the cold. But here’s a healthier alternative: Get out there, take the family on a new adventure and embrace the Canadian winter! From a snowshoe trek to good, old-fashioned tobogganing, here are our budget-smart tips for winter family fun outdoors:

Hit the slopes. Flying down snowy hills is exciting for all ages, whether it’s in an oversized doughnut, on skis or on a snowboard. The whole idea of packing the car and driving out to the ski hills may sound expensive, but with a little research, you’ll find great deals that make winter sports like these surprisingly affordable.

Some resorts offer special rates for certain days and times of the week; if those times don’t fit into your schedule, take a look at online coupon sites for discounted ski passes and winter getaway deals. Just make sure you do your due diligence and carefully read the rules and restrictions before you commit.

Rent to save. Winter sports equipment can get pricey, but don’t let that get in the way of your cold-weather expeditions. Look for deals at your local sporting goods store or rental equipment shop to cut costs. An affordable outing might be as easy as renting cross-country skis or snowshoes for the day and heading to your nearest national or provincial park or conservation area (where you may also be able to hike for free). Don’t forget to check out online buy-and-sell options such as Kijiji or Amazon for gently used and well-loved winter sports equipment and accessories.

Have fun in the city. Your city is a treasure trove of parks and trails just waiting to be explored by you and the kids, and there may be one near you. Grab the toboggan and head out for an afternoon of high-speed fun. If you don’t have a toboggan, you can rent one or buy a plastic saucer for as little as $4. You can even get creative and make your own sled from items around the house.

Many public skating rinks are free, and some even offer skate rentals for as little as $2. Be sure to check your city’s parks-and-recreation website for a list of the best, nearest and most frugal skating options. And whether you are hitting the hills or the rinks, don’t leave the helmets at home! Safety is a must and helmets are often mandatory for children at city-owned facilities.

Play in the backyard. Looking for something fun to do a little closer to home? Look no further than your very own yard or neighborhood park. If sporting equipment is beyond your budget, try a snow fort-building challenge with the kids, or learn to make an igloo together. These wintertime must-dos for the young at heart don’t have to cost a thing and will create memories that will last a lifetime!

Winter doesn’t have to be something you hide from; these are just a few ideas to get you thinking about healthy, active living when the cold weather gets you down.

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