Winter Activities for Canadian Seniors

Freezing temperatures and grey days can make it tempting to batten down the hatches and hibernate. But winter is an excellent time to enjoy the seasonal activities and events taking place across Canada.

Skiing and Snowshoeing
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing offer great low-impact aerobic workouts that can be tailored to individual ability. Most municipalities will offer either public or privately operated trails, and Parks Canada operates winter trails through many of the country’s national parks, including popular destinations like Jasper and Banff. If you’re new to the activity, it’s best to stick to short trails and work up to longer ones as your endurance and skill level builds. Remember to keep safety in mind: travel only on marked official trails, dress for the weather, bring emergency supplies including food and drink, and make sure someone at home knows where you are going and when you expect to return.

Nordic Walking
If you don’t have the equipment or trail access for skiing and snowshoeing, but still want to enjoy the physical benefits, a relatively new sport called Nordic walking is a great alternative. Nordic walking — which involves walking normally but with poles that resemble those used in skiing — can be done in either rural or wilderness areas. The poles not only provide additional balance and stability over regular walking, but the action of moving them also provides a workout for the upper body, burning more calories and strengthening the body’s core. Make sure to use proper Nordic walking poles, however, which are shorter than regular ski poles and come with removable rubber tips for hard surfaces, as using poles that are too long can put stress on the joints.

Curling is a great low-impact team sport to enjoy during the colder months. Many Canadian municipalities have curling teams, and often there is a league specifically for seniors. Even those who suffer from leg and back problems can continue to play, thanks to special devices like an extender, which is used to deliver the curling rocks without the need to bend over or lift heavy objects.

Traveling by Train
For those who prefer something a little more laid-back, winter is an ideal time to enjoy the scenery through the comfort of rail travel. VIA Rail, for example, operates a number of Winter Getaways and “Snow Trains” across Canada. Additionally, the Rocky Mountaineer offers tours through the Rockies and Whistler, with city stops in Vancouver, Calgary and Seattle, while the Coast-to-Coast route also stops in Halifax, Montreal and Toronto. Most but not all trains can accommodate persons with disabilities, so if you are traveling with a wheelchair or limited mobility, be sure to check with the rail line before booking a trip.

Winter Festivals
Train travel is also a great way to get to some of the many festivals and special events taking place this winter. The Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City is one of Canada’s best-known winter events. The Carnival first started in 1894, before the tradition was interrupted by the Depression and the World Wars. It was restarted in 1954 and became an official celebration in 1955. In 2012, the outdoor festival begins on January 27 and runs through until February 12. There’s also Winterlude in downtown Ottawa, operating over three weekends between February 3 and 20. Most Winterlude events are free and are held outdoors, including skating on the Rideau Canal; at 7.8 kilometers in length, the Rideau Canal Skateway is the world’s largest skating rink.

Want to free up some capital to enjoy pricier winter activities like international travel or even moving south for the winter? Consider a reverse mortgage with the CHIP home income plan. Contact Horizon Equity today to find out how you can free up the equity in your house without having to repay until you move.