Healthy Living in the North

Do you want to build a snowman?

Two snowmen

With all of the rolling, lifting, and moving around in the snow that is required, building a snowman is a great way to stay active! How will you keeping moving this winter?

If you have children or have watched television in the past year, chances are you have heard this song. The song from Disney’s hit movie Frozen has been very popular with both children and adults and is quite a catchy tune. Listening to it recently made me think of how fortunate we are to have an abundance of activities at our doorstep to enjoy during the winter months.

Choosing to be more physically active and decreasing our sedentary behaviours is definitely beneficial for our bodies, as an active lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Being active also enhances our mental health and well-being, which can be really helpful during this season when days are shorter and darker. Aim to choose activities that you enjoy – if you like it, you’re more likely to do it!

Some examples of winter activities to experience in northern B.C.:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Walking
  • Tobogganing
  • Snowboarding
  • Ice fishing
  • Alpine skiing
  • Skating
  • Building a snowman

Whatever winter activities you choose to take part in, ensure that you stay safe to prevent injury. Wear a helmet when skating or skiing, wear ice-grippers when walking, and wear reflective clothing if you are outside in the morning or after dark. Choose activities that are fun and that you enjoy. Don’t forget to bring along your family and friends to join you on a road to better health!


This article was originally published in A Healthier You magazine. The newest issue of our healthy living magazine is now available online!

 

Mandy Levesque

About Mandy Levesque

Mandy Levesque is Northern Health’s Lead, Healthy Community Development, Integrated Community Granting. Born and raised in northern Manitoba, Mandy and her family moved to Prince George in 2013. Mandy has a background in public health and health promotion and is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. She is passionate about innovation and quality, empowering northern populations, and promoting health and wellness across communities. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys spending time with her family and stays active by taking in the exciting activities, trails, and events northern B.C. has to offer.

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Snowmobiling and alcohol don’t mix!

Person with goggles and helmet riding a snowmobile

Snowmobiling is a popular activity during northern B.C. winters. Ride sober to make sure that it stays a safe activity, too!

Growing up in a small northern community, one of my family’s favourite winter activities was snowmobiling. We would load up the truck with our sleds and a big lunch and head up to the local mountain. Halfway up the mountain was a little snowmobile shack where we would sit, roast our hotdogs, and visit. My brother and I would play around in the snow, making snowmen and tobogganing before heading back inside to warm our toes by the fire and drink hot chocolate. Great fun and great memories!

Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity for many up here in the north. It is a great way to get out and enjoy the amazing scenery, mountains, and forests that we are so lucky to have. What many sometimes forget is that snowmobiling can be a dangerous activity, too, and one which requires your full attention at all times. Many of us choose to enjoy this activity as a family, which requires that we remain alert and responsible to ensure our children’s safety as well as our own. It is important to remember that snowmobiles are motorized vehicles that come with the responsibility to ride with our full attention and to ride sober, just like driving a car.

Too often, outdoor activities are combined with alcohol use, increasing the risk factor associated with those activities. Some people try to reason that drinking alcohol is all right in the winter because it warms you up and prevents you from freezing. In reality, alcohol actually increases your risk of hypothermia by dilating your blood vessels, which causes you to cool off faster. In addition, alcohol slows down your reaction time and affects your co-ordination due to its depressing effects on the brain.

This can be disastrous for snowmobilers who enjoy hill climbing and going into the back country as it is very easy to lose track of where you are if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings. When snowmobiling, you need to be able to react to the changing terrain and hazards that come your way, watch out for other sleds, and keep an eye on little ones – and alcohol will inhibit your ability to do these things.

Two children on a snowmobile

Snowmobiling can be a great way to get outside and be active with your family, but alcohol can inhibit your ability to ensure your own safety and your children’s safety while sledding. When you sled this winter, sled sober!

Snowmobiles are heavy machines that can get up to speeds over 120 km/h! Combine that with slower reaction times and decreased co-ordination and the results aren’t pretty. According to the BC Injury and Research Prevention Unit, there are more than 200 snowmobile-related deaths in North America each year! How many of these could have been prevented by riding safely and riding sober? Snowmobiling is a fabulous way to stay active and to spend quality time with family and friends during our beautiful (but long) winters! Just remember to ride safe!

Check out the BC Snowmobile Federation to find out more about how to sled safely.

Snowmobiler in front of a mountain, giving two thumbs up to the camera.

By following a few safety tips, your winter snowmobiling adventures can be fun, healthy, and safe for everyone!

Erin Doyle

About Erin Doyle

Erin is a fourth year nursing student at UNBC. She is a wife and mom to two girls aged ten and eight. Erin enjoys spending her weekends with her family at Powder King - skiing in the winter and boating in the summer. Erin is looking forward to graduation and beginning her career as a nurse.

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