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Different ways to play outside: discover new winter sports

Winter in Canada can be very, very long… except when you’re having fun outside! Winter sports are just the ticket; they help you stay active during the cold season and make the tough months go by faster.  And while the benefits of exercise on physical health are well known, staying active can also be an effective way of ensuring good mental health. In fact, making physical activity a priority is a simple and accessible way to take care of our well-being and health, including our mental health. 
 
A person walking through thick snow in full winter gearThis winter, why not try a new sport that promises thrills and a lot of fun? Get properly equipped to play outside safely (proper clothing, helmet and other recommended protection) and dare to try one (or more) of the following!


Ski mountaineering, to explore beautiful snowy landscapes

Also known as wilderness skiing or even back-country ski touring, ski mountaineering is a fast-growing sport in Canada and is done on snow-covered terrain, in the great outdoors, and without the use of amenities, such as mechanical lifts or groomed trails. In recent years, off-trail has gained popularity (and is perfectly legit). Climbing is done “on foot” with special equipment on the base of the skis, making it possible to stick to the snow. People from the Rockies to the Gaspé region are discovering this exciting activity.


Fat biking

One of the major trends in winter sports in recent years is fat biking. It’s growing in popularity, and the number of available trails is increasing. With its over-sized tires, this bike is specially designed for riding on snow and is accessible to everyone. No need to be an expert cyclist to enjoy it because the bike adjusts to your speed, for those who enjoy a more leisurely pace to properly take in the scenery.


Person skiing down a snowy hillSnowshoe skiing

Do you prefer skiing or snowshoeing? What if you didn’t have to choose? Also known as Hok skiing, snowshoe skiing is a cross between cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It’s faster than snowshoeing, but easier to handle than cross-country skis. Hok skiing is a great way to roam about the fields and woods around your home, giving you plenty of freedom.


Snowshoeing, sportier than it seems!

Some fans of snowshoe trekking compare this type of sports outing to a meditation in motion. Excellent for cardio, but also for toning the whole body, snowshoeing is a complete sport, as well as a good way to get grounded and relax.
Are you bored with walking in snowshoes? Try racing! This sport is rapidly gaining fans across the country, with an increasing number of racers who now want to train year-round, and also a wider range of specialized equipment. Even at -20 degrees, you'll be hot, guaranteed!


Snow scooting

Want a change from downhill skiing? A blend between a BMX and a snowboard, snow scooting is another way to enjoy the slopes and it’s really easy to learn. As a family sport, downhill scooting can be enjoyed by people of all ages. With a snow scooter, you can hit the slopes or the nature trails. And no worries, this equipment goes on all types of mechanical lifts.


The thrills of winter running

Much more fun than running on a treadmill in a gym, running on snow is a great way to stay fit during the winter. With shoes designed for running on snow, you can get an effective workout, no matter the cold. A rule of thumb for not getting too hot or too cold: dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer because body temperature increases with effort. Don’t forget to wear gloves and remember that you lose 40% of your heat through your head, so wearing a hat is a must.

No matter what winter sport you’re doing, stay hydrated. The cold sometimes makes us forget to drink water, but it’s essential. Also be wary of frostbite, which can appear very quickly when it’s cold. Be sure to cover your face and head, to use a scarf and mittens. Don’t forget to wear goggles during winter outings, as the sun reflecting off the snow can disrupt your vision. If you think someone is suffering from frostbite, here’s what you should do.

While ice and sliding sports are enjoyable and beneficial for our winter morale, they’re also conducive to sprains, strains and breaks. Be prepared by reviewing these first-aid tips.
 
Lastly, as lovers of the outdoors know, nature can’t be controlled, so always find out about the risk of avalanches before heading for the slopes or off the trails. Enjoy your winter! 
 
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