Cathy Austin December’20

The Great Winter Escape: Get Outdoors!

By Cathy Austin

By the time you read this, our Christmas tree will be up and simply decorated, our outdoor lights will be strung differently, our holiday decor items will be out of storage and brightening up our inside living space. It is December COVID-19 style, and we aim to make it as cheerful as possible for our small bubble of two. No doubt we’re all on the same page in this regard!

As for the outdoors, it may be the best place to spend time this winter. The outdoors is good place to be right now, indoors not so much; that is unless you are just spending time in your own household. More so now than ever, staying safe, distanced, masked, and sanitized is critically important for our collective health. So, how can we enjoy the long winter months ahead? Get outdoors! Stretch, walk, and frolic in the snow. Brisk open air makes it more difficult for the virus to find you, so enjoy the great outdoors in these ways and more:

Skating! During the writing of this article, outdoor skating is planned to resume. As positive COVID-19 numbers rise and stricter regulations are put in place, check for updates on rink openings and official guidelines on the city’s COVID-19 web page. Skating is a super friendly winter activity for one person or the whole family. will outline all rinks and venues that will allow skaters. Take a look for one near you.  

There are skating trails all across our province, the most well-known being Rideau Canal Skateway. It will be different this year of course, no stopping at the huts along the route and being well-distanced from others, but it is a glorious skate all the same. Check Ottawa’s website for updates.

Not to be outdone, we here in Toronto have a lovely skating trail under the Gardiner near Fort York. This is an awesome event, now several years in operation.

The more outdoor activities you can enjoy, the better – especially the naturally distanced ones.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are both wonderful heart pumping activities that let you exercise and see the great winter scenery in many areas around the GTA.

Walking is simply one of the best outdoor activities we can do during the pandemic year-round. We’ve all been out wearing out our shoe leather, walking more than ever. It’s been great exploring other neighbourhoods on our own two feet. It is a safe and ideal way to work out and travel short distances. You can see more, enjoy the fresh air, and feel better both physically and mentally. We’ve got an excess of beautiful walking trails around our city including right here in Scarborough. Visit walking friendly parks like the Guild, the Rouge, and my personal favourite, Thomson Park at Brimley and Lawrence.

All this is no secret to Scandinavians. They’ve been embracing the concept of the open air life or ‘friluftsliv’ with a passion, more this year than ever before. It makes sense that colder countries and Indigenous communities in Canada know how to focus on living in tandem with nature when the weather turns chilly and snow falls. How better to navigate through the darker days January and February bring us? Communing with nature and appreciating our environment may be key to our happiness and survival through to 2021.

As we’ve nowhere to go this year, now is the time to get the childlike wonder back. Reclaim it on a snowy day; get outside, catch snowflakes on your tongue, shovel with your bubble partner, walk the block with your favourite boots on. Mask up, put your mittens on and get ready to embrace our Canadian hardiness!