If you think snow is just nature’s way to delay airports, knock out power lines, and block your car under a mountain of frigid flakes, get ready to change your mind! Turns out, there are quite a few surprising benefits of playing outside in the snow. So, grab a cup of hot cocoa (with homemade marshmallows, of course) and cozy up under that fleece blanket, then read on to learn why snow is good for you.
There’s no show like a snow show!
Winter for me has a special charm, the cold wind blowing on your face, the scarves, gloves, coats, and feeling of cold weather brings back memories from the time I lived in Illinois. Watching the snow and discovering the snowflakes with that perfect shape was really a show.
I grew up in a city that never saw snow. When I moved to Chicago for college, I experienced a real winter and lots of snow for the very first time, and thought it was the most beautiful thing ever. Now, of course, winter in Illinois can be rough, so I do admit that there were times I thought, “enough is enough,” but I will always have wonderful memories of that first snowfall.
Now that I live in Miami, I don’t have a chance to see the snow as often as I’d like. I really wanted my kids to experience all the wonderful things about snow, so I took them to see it in Colorado a couple of years ago and it was a great experience for them. They loved it! We also went to Vermont when my son was about 5-6 old and where he took his first ski lesson. I think that all kids need to experience playing outside in the snow at least once, it really is amazing. In fact, it’s even more amazing than you may think!
Surprising Benefits of Playing Outside in the Snow
You probably already know that walking, skiing and just plain playing outside in the snow is good for your heart (and your waistline), but did you know that it has many other fantastic benefits for everything from the physical to the psychological? Let’s start with the physical, shall we?
Snow is nature’s gym, without the hefty membership fees
From skiing to shoveling to backyard snowball fights, playing in the fluffy white stuff can help you burn mega calories. Depending on your weight, cross-country skiing can burn up to about 600 calories per hour, according to Harvard Medical School. Not into skiing? No problem! Shoveling snow by hand is almost as good, burning over 500 calories an hour. Even a good old-fashioned snowball fight has the potential to burn plenty of calories with all that running and dashing!
Playing in the cool fresh air cuts back on germ exposure
While generations of grandmothers told us that we’d “catch our death” if we went out in the cold, a fun day playing outside in the snow can actually help your immune system. It gives us a chance to escape the germy recirculated air that we usually breathe all winter long. Just make sure you bundle up, as grandma’s warning does carry some merit, according to new studies. Being too cold can suppress your immune system, making it easier for germs to take hold. Wear layers to keep your body warm while you breathe in that wonderful fresh snowy air.
Snow is the ultimate free toy for kids
From STEM activities to art projects, if you have a backyard filled with the frosty white stuff, your kids have access to nature’s ultimate free toy. Very little in nature encourages imaginations quite like playing outside in the snow. With nothing more than their little gloved hands they can build beautiful snowmen, craft mega castles, construct forts to hide behind during a snowball fight, or just lay on their backs looking up at the sky while making snow angels.
Laughing and playing is good for everyone
There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” It helps relieve stress, releases “feel good” endorphins that fight depression, and even helps you burn calories. Sure, you don’t need snow to laugh and play, but it definitely gives you plenty of opportunities to do both. Try to keep a straight face when your building a lopsided snowman or flying down the hill on a shiny new sled. I dare you not to laugh as you pelt each other with snowballs or watch each other try to master skiing for the first time. It’s an easy and fun way to keep your family healthy all winter long!
Snow days give us a distraction-free chance to bond with each other
Perhaps the greatest benefit of snow is the fact opportunity it gives us to bond with our families at home. When the roads are closed, your car is blocked in, and there’s absolutely no chance you’ll be going anywhere for at least the day, everything just sort of falls away. You can’t go to work, you can’t run to the store to exchange that sweater, you can’t even order out for dinner. It’s just you and your family for an entire uninterrupted day. Take advantage of that time together! Free days like that come along so very rarely in our fast-paced, “go, go, go!” world.
Oh, and don’t forget that family time translates into great memories, and even more so if you share them with your favorite comfort foods. Make memories that will last a lifetime this winter, and enjoy the snow!