As cold weather sweeps into the city and snow blankets the streets, there is no doubt that the winter season has almost arrived. Many people who have already been at home because of the pandemic will have even more incentive to remain indoors and avoid the chill.
However with less daylight hours, extended periods of isolation, and dreary weather, it’s easy to slip into a negative mindset and catch the winter blues. To counteract these feelings of lethargy, there are lots of ways to reenergize by bundling up and being active in nature.
Ice skating on an outdoor rink, natural trail, or pond is a great way to get some exercise in the winter and being active helps to keep warm even on the coldest days. The only equipment required is hockey or figure skates (which can usually be rented at most outdoor rinks) and a helmet. However, with COVID restrictions if rentals are not open there are lots of stores which sell both new and used skates at affordable prices.
The City of Toronto operates more than 100 indoor and outdoor rinks. This winter, most outdoor rinks plan to open in early December with change rooms closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. Some rinks near R. H. King include: McCowan Park which hosts both a hockey rink and leisure skating path and Scarborough Civic Centre/Albert Campbell Square which has an outdoor rink.
As the temperatures drop and parks and trails become less crowded, why not take advantage of the opportunity to explore how nature changes from fall to winter? Sparkling snow topped trees and ground means sounds will be absorbed and it’s easy to get lost in a winter wonderland. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and proper footwear and keep an eye out for winter wildlife.
There are lots of parks which have versatile and beautiful trails in Toronto. The Rouge Valley/Rouge Urban National Park has about 15 official hiking trails which travel through meadows, forests, wetlands, and farmland providing views of the Rouge and Little Rouge rivers. The Don River Valley Park is Toronto’s largest urban park and has six main trails which showcase the area’s diverse flora and fauna.
Tobogganing or sledding is a more adrenaline packed option for people that want some action packed fun within their family/social circles (or even alone)! An exhilarating ride down a big hill and a fresh pillow of snow to cushion your landing might bring back childhood memories of winter break and snow days. For some old fashioned fun, all that’s needed is a toboggan and warm clothes which can get snowy or wet depending on the weather.
It’s pretty much possible to sled anywhere there is a hill and some snow, but the City of Toronto recommends the hills at Birchmount Park and Thompson Memorial Park.
Overall, it might be hard to find the motivation to get outside on the grey freezing days in the depths of winter, but it’s important for mental health and wellbeing to find ways to be in nature. After a long day outside, feel free to warm your frozen limbs by the fireside or cozy up indoors with a hot cocoa and a good movie (for suggestions check out the Kingsley Voice’s biweekly movie recommendation roundups by Lily Santon).