Updated: November 23, 2021
Sub-zero temperatures make it tempting to cuddle up on the couch with Netflix and comfort food. While it’s normal to feel sluggish in the winter, kids and adults alike need to remain active to stay healthy.
This winter, resist the urge to hibernate and instead head outside for active, family fun! St. Albert and the greater Edmonton area have plenty of family friendly winter activities available all season long.
Here are a few ideas for families looking to keep moving when the temperatures dip:
1. Go Tobogganing
What could be more quintessentially Canadian than tobogganing? Many neighbourhoods in St. Albert and Edmonton have parks where bigger kids can whiz down hills on crazy carpets, saucers, and other kinds of sleds. Babies and toddlers can be held on the laps of parents or bundled up in a baby toboggan and pulled through the snow. Just remember to be safe and wear your helmets.
Here are some of our favourite tobogganing hills in St. Albert and Edmonton:
- Liberton Hill (Liberton Drive, St.Albert)
- Mission Hill (13 Mission Ave, St. Albert), also known as Seven Hills!
- Griesbach Hill (Griesbach Central Park 2630 Sir Arthur Currie Way, Edmonton)
- Rundle Park (2903 – 113 Avenue, Edmonton)
- Whitemud Park North (Keillor Road and Fox Drive, Edmonton)
Fitness benefits: Cardiovascular fitness and total body strength (walking or running up a snowy hill while pulling a sled can get the blood pumping and some core stabilization is required during the ride down the hill).
2. Build a Snowman
This is another classic winter activity, but it requires a good amount of snow on the ground. Dress in layers and grab some mittens (ideally nylon mittens that won’t absorb moisture) before heading to the backyard, front yard, or local park.
Looking for a park in St. Albert? The City of St. Albert has a handy map online, as well as information about park amenities.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular fitness and total body strength (largely from squatting down to pack and roll the snow into balls and, for the littles ones, pushing and stacking the snowballs on top of one another).
Skating is a wonderful way to be active as a family, while enjoying the beautiful winter landscape. Pack up your skates, helmets, and snacks, and dress in layers with hats and mittens to keep fingers and ears protected from frost bite.
If you’re skating with young kids, you may also want to bring along a support bar or folding chair for balance. Since small children may not have the patience for a long skating session outside, consider bringing a sled or toboggan to keep them occupied while their older siblings glide across the rink.
Looking for a place to skate? In St. Albert, options include:
- Akinsdale/Kinex arenas (with free public skating on Sundays)
- Lacombe Park Lake
- St. Albert Outdoor Rinks (usually open in mid-December)
- St. Albert Skating Centre
Families can also check out the rinks in neighbouring communities, like Cardiff Park Skating Loop, the outdoor skating rink in Morinville or the two Morinville indoor arenas (Morinville Leisure Centre and the Morinville Arena), and heading a little further out of St. Albert, the Barrhead Agrena. For indoor rinks closer to St. Albert we recommend checking out:
- Riviere Qui Bar
- Bon Accord
In Edmonton, there are dozens of outdoor rinks open to the public. During the months of January and February, families can visit the ice surface at Castle Downs Park, Hawrelak Park Lake, the Victoria Park Oval, Churchill Square and many other Edmonton outdoor skating venues.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular fitness and total body strength, specifically in your core, legs, and lower back. Skating requires a lot of core stability and balance! It’s also a great way to improve your mental health while burning calories.
4. Cross-Country Skiing
If you have school-aged kids (rather than very young children), consider hitting the trails for a Nordic ski adventure. Unlike downhill skiing, Nordic or cross-country skiing can be done practically anywhere there’s snow. There are great local trails throughout St. Albert (Red Willow Trail System and River lot 56) and families can take lessons at the St. Albert Nordic Ski Club.
There is also a great trail system at Chickakoo Lake in Parkland County, just a short drive from St. Albert. There are, what seem like endless trails for all levels of skiers in this trail system cut out of the woods.
There are also trails throughout the Edmonton river valley, and families can take lessons and through the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club at Gold Bar Park. In February, don’t miss the Silver Skate Festival at Hawrelak Park, which offers outdoor skiing and winter activities like snow sculpture and horse-drawn sleigh-rides.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular fitness, core stability, and overall strength (specifically in your arms and legs). Similar to skating, cross-country skiing requires balance and is a great way to clear your mind at the end of a long day, or week!
If you want to get off the beaten path, try snowshoeing! A great low-impact workout, snowshoeing gives you the option to explore some quieter and less populated areas. Riverlot 56 in St. Albert has trails for both beginner and experienced snowshoers with plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife, and the City of Edmonton lists some of the best areas for snowshoeing in and around Edmonton. Chickakoo Lake in Parkland County is only a short drive but another hidden gem that you should explore if you’re considering snowshoeing.
If you have kids, bring a thermos of hot chocolate so you can take a break and enjoy the scenery.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular fitness, and leg and core strength (especially when walking in the deep snow). Snowshoeing is also a great way to clear the mind while burning calories.
6. Play Ice Hockey
There’s a reason ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport! Hockey is the perfect winter activity if you want to exercise outdoors while engaging in a little friendly competition. Invite the family to play around on the ice, or include neighbours and friends and host a small game.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular fitness, balance, stability, and overall core strength. Whether it’s intense bursts of speed or quick stops, ice hockey is a great calorie burning exercise with the added mental health benefit of feeling challenged competitively.
7. Downhill Skiing Or Snowboarding
Downhill skiing and snowboarding is a great way for the entire family to get some winter cardio exercise, and you don’t have to leave the city to do it!
The Snow Valley Ski Club, which is located just off the Whitemud in Edmonton, caters mostly to beginners with a few advanced runs. With the option of rentals and lessons, it’s the perfect place to get your little ones on the hill!
Sunridge Ski Area is built on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. It has two different terrain parks, one for beginners and another with intermediate and advanced features. They also offer a snow tubing park for those members of your family that are less inclined towards skiing or snowboarding.
On the south side of Edmonton is Rabbit Hill Ski Resort, Edmonton’s largest ski and snowboard resort. With 40 acres of trails, a top-notch terrain park, and a snow school on-site, this resort is great for the whole family.
A little further north of St. Albert is Tawatinaw Valley Ski Hill. It offers great ski runs, rentals, lessons and a great terrain park for those with more adventurous spirits. They offer snowshoeing and cross country ski trails as well.
For helpful tips on preventing a skiing or snowboarding injury, visit our blog.
Fitness Benefits: Similar to skating and cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding provides health benefits of cardiovascular fitness, core stability, and overall strength.
8. Go For A Winter Walk!
One of the easiest winter family activities you can do this year is to go for a winter walk! This is a great way to get outside while exploring neighbourhoods or places you’ve never been.
St. Albert lights up for the holiday season and there is no shortage of places to go for a stroll and see some of the neighbourhood Christmas light displays. The St. Albert Gazette has a Christmas Light Map that you can use to find a Christmas light display near you, or walk around the grounds at the Legislative building in Edmonton and enjoy a magical light display complete with a 40 foot tall Christmas tree. For more areas to see beautiful Christmas lights, click here.
There are also some great walking routes to be found in the Red Willow Trail system in St. Albert. Check out Our Top Picks for Fall Running Routes for some of our favourites!
Fitness Benefits: Get those daily steps in while improving your overall mental health!
9. Check Out A Winter Festival
Albertans make good use of our winter season and there is no shortage of winter festivals. Here are some of our favourites:
Fitness Benefits: Fitness benefits are similar to walking — a great way to get steps in while improving your mental health.
9. Soccer In The Snow
Most of us play soccer only in the spring and summer, long after the snow has melted, but kids love kicking the ball around outside in any kind of weather. You can mark your goals with sticks on the snow (or bring out the nets from the garage) or play without formal rules. Especially if you play at a local park, remember to find a ball that’s a bright colour and it won’t get lost in deep snow.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular Fitness from running and core stability (especially while kicking the ball and running on the uneven ground)! It can also help improve your mental health.
10. Help A Neighbour Shovel Their Walk
We’ve all shoveled a walk or two and know what a great workout it can be. Help a neighbour out and shovel their walk this winter. Not only is this a good way to get outside and burn some calories, but it let’s you and your family help out someone in your community!
If you suffer from lower back pain, you’ll want to avoid lifting a snow filled shovel and instead stick to pushing the shovel from the centre of your body. Be sure to contact us if you notice any lingering pain or discomfort.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular fitness, overall body strength (specifically leg, core, and arm strength) and mental health.
11. Build A Snow Castle
Building a snow castle is a creative and active way to spend some time outdoors with your family. For best results you’ll want to wait for a day when the snow is wet and heavy. Use your hands, buckets, or shovels to create and mold a castle that is as large or as small as you like!
Fun Tip: Fill ice cream pails or sand buckets with water and food colouring and let freeze overnight for added touches of colour.
Fitness Benefits: Cardiovascular Fitness, total body strength (largely from squatting down to pack and shape snow, for the littles ones, pushing and stacking snow on top of one another), and mental health.
12. Plan A Winter Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt encourages your family to get outside and explore. Make your own scavenger hunt by picking 15-20 common things you would find outside (dog, snowman, Christmas lights, etc.) and either try to find them all, or make bingo cards and complete it as a bingo challenge.
A winter scavenger hunt can be as physically demanding as you want, and can also be used to help check christmas activities off your bucket list (consider a Christmas gift list scavenger hunt).
If you don’t want to create your own scavenger hunt, you can enjoy the same benefits by trying out geocaching this winter.
Fitness Benefits: Scavenger hunting and geocaching hold similar benefits to taking a walk. This includes cardiovascular fitness, burning calories, improving mental health, and getting those steps in!
13. Ice Fishing
Ice fishing can be done from the comfort of an ice fishing tent with a power auger, but it’s also common to see folks sitting around on five gallon pails dangling a line into a hole in the ice made with a hand auger.
Whatever your comfort level, you can find some great ice fishing spots in and around St. Albert. Some of our favourites:
- Big Lake in Edmonton for pike and walleye.
- Cardiff Pond for trout.
- Morinville Fish and Game Pond for brown and rainbow trout.
- Devil’s Lake for pike and perch.
Make sure you purchase your fishing license from My Wild Alberta before heading out, and always check the regulations in the area where you’ll be fishing.
Fitness Benefits: Mental health, cardiovascular fitness, burning calories, arm and leg strength (from using an auger).
Ready to get active this winter?
There are so many options for you and your family to stay active this winter!
Staying active is important but it can be difficult if you are experiencing pain. If you have an injury or are experiencing pain or discomfort, contact us to find out how our experienced physiotherapists and massage therapists can help you stay fit, active and healthy this winter.
Enjoy the season while it lasts, and remember to always warm up to prevent injury!