Keeping Children Active in the Winter

Marsh Visit

The telltale signs of winter may have taken a while to greet the Ottawa region, but winter certainly made its presence known over the holidays. Frigid temperatures, howling winds, and snow up to your elbows have beset the Ottawa area, and it’s tempting to curl up inside and hibernate until the spring thaw. For children, staying active is an important goal year-round, not just when the weather cooperates. Active healthy bodies lead to active healthy minds.

Skiing and Snowboarding

The Gatineau Hills lie just across the Ottawa River and are home to popular ski resorts like Camp Fortune, Mont Cascades, Mont Ste. Marie, Edelweiss, and Vorlage. Most of these ski resorts are within an hour drive of Ottawa, and offer everything from ski school for all skill levels to competitive slalom skiing and freestyle snowboarding. Preschoolers can start out on the bunny hill, while teens will have a lot of fun skiing moguls on the double black diamond hills.

The Ottawa area is also home to many scenic cross-country skiing trails such as Mer Bleue bog in east Ottawa. Spend an afternoon cross-country skiing, and you may even attract a chickadee to eat seeds out of your hand! Skiing is fun for the whole family, so even if everyone in the family is a beginner there’s no time to start like the present. Skiing is a test of balance, control, power, and nerves.


Skating is a Canadian pastime, and nowhere is that more evident than Ottawa in the wintertime. Not only do outdoor rinks come to life in every neighbourhood, but the Rideau Canal is transformed into the longest skateway in the world. Winterlude, North America’s largest winter festival, kicks off on January 29 and continues until February 15. Skating is a challenging workout and a great test of balance, agility, control, and speed.

Preschoolers can start with basic skating techniques and develop their skills winter by winter. If your child is a teenager, they can even volunteer at the nearest outdoor rink and learn valuable skills like maintaining the ice, which can go toward the 40-hour Community Involvement Requirement to obtain a diploma.

Fun with the Snow

You don’t have to travel far to keep your child active in the winter – great fun can be found in your own backyard. Dress up in your warmest winter gear and head out to the backyard to build an igloo or snow fort, build a snowman, create snow angels, make snow art, conduct science experiments…the list is endless. Anything that gets your child outside and gets their heart rate up is a positive experience.

Indoor Fitness

When the weather is -40°C, going outside to exercise is not always the most appealing. However there are plenty of activities that your child can do indoors that get the body moving. Even a simple stretching routine will loosen the body, relieve stress, and put your child in a better state of mind. This article has many great ideas for indoor activities.

Ottawa Start has compiled a great collection of Ottawa skating rinks, ski hills, and toboggan hills this winter:

At St-Laurent Academy, we wholeheartedly believe that active healthy bodies are as important as healthy minds. For this reason, we offer daily phys ed to students at our private school in Ottawa. Activities take place in our large and well-equipped gym or at the park connected to the school. Weather permitting, students enjoy twenty minutes of outdoor activity in the park twice daily. No matter the season, your child can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of keeping active.