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Playground Equipment Blog
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Getting Excited to Get Outside In Winter

Winter may be the most beautiful season of the year, and yet, it’s also the season we feel the most distant from nature. Instead of getting out to see the snowy hills or the rain-drenched fields, we huddle inside, living on artificial light, and trying to scratch our nature itch by looking at photos someone else took of the great wonders of the outside world.

It’s a new year, folks, and it’s the time of resolutions. If last week’s resolutions weren’t enough for you, it’s time to resolve to get out into the world again, getting some exercise, getting healthy, and getting rid of that seasonal depression. It’s not as intimidating a prospect as you may think. We’re here to show you how to get started and how to stick with it.

Get the Right Gear

It’s time to go shopping! If there’s one excuse that keeps people inside during the winter, it’s that they don’t have the right clothes. People will take one look at the thermometer, give a little fake shiver, and say they just don’t have the coat or the boots or the thermal underwear for a trek out into the woods.

So, your first step is to just remove that excuse from your life.

Not sure what you need? There’s a whole winter hiking checklist already set up for you. Go out and enjoy a good shopping spree so you get the clothes and equipment that fit your style and needs. Organize everything so it’s there and ready to go so it takes as little prep as possible before your next trip out.

Not only does this help you avoid delays in the future, it will inspire you to go out because of the investment you’ve made. You’ve bought the stuff, it’s organized and ready to go, begging to be used. Why not go for a quick hike so it stops laying about, accusing you of winter laziness?

Bring Good Food Along

Here’s a great tip most people don’t think about when they want some extra motivation for winter strolls: bring food and drink you really like. It can feel a little unappetizing, walking the trails, munching cold granola bars and sipping cold water. It makes you cold just thinking about it.

So, motivate yourself by preparing warm and healthy food and drink that you will be looking forward to munching on after you get going. Bring some warm corn tortillas and healthy taco options and then deny yourself the right to eat them unless you get outside. Don’t just hydrate on water, bring some delicious green tea or coffee, all prepared however you like it.

If you’re short of ideas, here are some suggestions for trail food that can be healthy, delicious, and motivating while you tackle the wintry wonderland outside your doors.

Once you’ve got a nice hiking menu in place, your stomach will motivate you as well as anything else.

Set Times that Work and Stick to Them

The famously hearty postal service lives by this motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

It’s time you took a page (or letter) from that robust spirit and start making plans to tackle nature, no matter what it has to throw at you.

Set a scheduled time each week that you are always free, and then make sure you get out there into the elements, whatever those elements happen to be. Make sure the time you choose is one in which you’ll be as well-rested and free of commitments as possible. For most people, that’s a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but choose the time that is best for you.

Barring blizzards and dangerously low temperatures, you should just learn to ignore the weather completely. Prepare to meet anything and then just get out there. You should have all the gear you need for standard weather issues, so you know you can stay warm, safe, and relatively dry. So, just go. Don't let the weather offer you an excuse.

Take Photos and Share and Print Them

These days, we’re used to taking a hundred photos a day, thanks to our smartphones. That has somewhat degraded the motivational power of taking your own photos when you see something beautiful out in the wild.

For all that, having a photo that you took of something beautiful that only you (or you and your group) saw still offers a one-of-a-kind thrill. Further build on that motivation by not just taking photos but sharing them on social media and even printing them out. Nothing is going to get you out in the winter weather quite like a photo on your wall that shows just what nature has to offer in its coldest months.

Pick Someone to Explore With

Hiking, like anything else, is usually better when it’s shared with others. While there’s nothing wrong with private, personal, introspective hikes (those can be incredibly wonderful and therapeutic), when you’re trying to build some motivation up to make your hikes a habit, having others there to motivate you is incredibly helpful.

A word of advice, though: partner up with people who are at least as motivated as you. You don’t want friends dragging you back to bed by lending you their excuses for staying in. If it’s possible, partner up with people who are already in the habit of getting outside in winter. If you can attach yourself to people who will be out anyway—and who will make a point of getting you out—then you’ll find yourself getting out far more often.

Even if you just have another novice nature lover to go with, though, setting your schedules to meet up, hang out, have fun, laugh, and spend time in nature, will make you more eager to shuffle into the warm clothes and get out the door.

For Parents: Choose a Park with Kid-Friendly Options

If there’s any legitimate excuse to skip the winter activities and stay in, it’s kids. Kids are harder to organize and to inspire to get out and walk on a trail for a few hours. They’re cold, they’re favorite shows are on, they’re tired, they want to eat. Kids are experts at complaining and making life tougher for you.

Getting the little ones outside takes a lot more effort and can zap the little bit of motivation you have for yourself.

To overcome this, try to look for outdoor opportunities that will combine what the kids love with what you love. If there’s a nice playground in the area, and the weather allows for it, make a deal to get them to walk for a bit, have a nice lunch, and play on the equipment. If they know there’s a carrot at the end of the stick, they’ll be more willing to go. And, if they have a particularly good time, they’ll start demanding to go back!

Some playgrounds are even especially inviting in winter—consider those that have wintry components like the Pine Tree Topper, if they’re available in the area—with designs that will draw on your kids’ imaginations and build up their enthusiasm for turning off the TV and turning out into the local park.

Winter doesn’t have to be an indoor season. Some of the most refreshing, inspiring, and healthy outdoor experiences of the year are available only in the winter. You may discover a secret cross-country skiing enthusiast inside you or a latent winter-time camper. Getting into the habit of getting outside in the winter also allows you to build up steam to stay healthier and more engaged with nature throughout the rest of the year.

If you just approach it right, spending your winter outdoors doesn’t have to be a hassle, a chore, or a failed resolution. Just plan for it properly, tend carefully to your motivation, and prepare to get out into the great wintry outdoors.

Written by: Ben Thompson

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