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By Kimberly Adler-Morelli

Snuggling under a cozy blanket with a steamy mug of something warming is one of the delights of winter. And it’s even better after a chilly day outside! It’s easier to get exercise in the warmer months, but your muscles need year-round movement to stay strong. Being outdoors in the winter can also improve your mood, reduce stress and boost your immune system and metabolism. 

Young children enjoying snowtubing down a hill.

However, as Grace Guerrier, MD, a primary care physician at Geisinger Berwick, reminds us, “Viruses thrive in low temperatures, so while you’re out having fun, remember to wash your hands frequently to stay healthy.”

Also remember to use sunscreen whenever you’re outdoors.

 Though the sun’s rays are weaker in the winter, sunlight reflecting off snow and ice can still cause skin damage.

So what is there to do outside besides walking?

Luckily for us, Pennsylvania offers lots of unique opportunities for winter fun. (Hint: The more snowflakes, the more intense the activity!)
A young adult snowtubing down the mountain.

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High intensity

Want to get your heart rate up in the great outdoors? For a fun workout, try skiing, sledding, tobogganing, skating or snow tubing. There are plenty of ski resorts across PA, and many offer snow tubing as well. 

State parks are great places to hop on a sled or toboggan — or lace up a pair of ice skates. Find lots of spots near you by visiting dcnr.pa.gov and searching “where to sled” or “where to ice skate.”

All illustration of a rainbow trout.

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Medium intensity

If you enjoy fishing, why not try it on the ice? Take a hike across the ice with your gear, drill your hole and prepare to reel in dinner. You can hook many different species of fish across the state, such as walleye, perch, northern pike, crappie, trout and bass.

Pennsylvania has 525 lakes, so chances are there’s one near you. Be sure to check ice thickness before you head out onto a frozen lake, or you may be taking an unintentional polar bear plunge.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (fishandboat.com — search “winter fishing”) is a great resource for ice fishing locations and safety tips.

A holiday-themes horse drawn carriage.

Low intensity

For an activity that’s not quite so strenuous, take in the winter scenery on a horse-drawn sleigh or carriage ride. There are plenty of places throughout PA where you can enjoy the brisk weather and beautiful landscape while horses pull you along in the snow or clip-clop through quaint, scenic towns. This activity is great for families and people of all ages. It’s a great way to embrace winter and soak up some vitamin D from the sun.

Whether you enjoy physical activities like skiing, tobogganing and sledding or you just want to admire the wintry beauty of Pennsylvania on a leisurely stroll, there are lots of ways to keep moving. Stay healthy this season by getting out of those pajama pants and into your snow boots — for a few hours, anyway.


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