Five Ways to Get Outside to Beat the Winter Blahs

The shorter, darker days of winter can take a toll. But according to The TurfMutt Foundation and its spokesdog, Mulligan the TurfMutt, there is an easy fix for a case of the winter blahs. Get outside. 

“It’s hard to argue with a dog’s enthusiasm for spending time outside, and there are many good reasons to follow their lead, even in winter,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of The TurfMutt Foundation, which advocates taking care of and using the green space in our own backyards and community parks. “My dog, Mulligan the TurfMutt, loves the snow and wants to be outside. Even when it’s cold, she motivates me and all of TurfMutt Nation to get outside all year long,”

Exposure to cold temperatures increases your energy levels and can sharpen your mental focus. Cold weather can also reduce inflammation and swelling; think if it like a cold plunge bath or ice pack for your entire body. Spending time outside fires up your metabolism, and you actually burn more calories when it’s cold than hot. Additionally, being outside helps boost your Vitamin D levels, which tend to fall during the shorter, gray days of winter. 

Here are a few ways The TurfMutt Foundation suggests getting outside to beat the winter blues:

Go for a walk (and take the dog). Taking a walk through your neighbourhood or community park is one of the easiest ways to get outside, any time of year. Bundle up the family and your dog to walk with you. Change up your route to keep it interesting, or visit a park you haven’t been to in a while.  
Observe birds and wildlife. Birds and other wildlife can be fascinating to watch during the winter. Take a walk with wildlife-watching in mind to see how behaviours and habitats change in cold weather months versus other times of the year. Bring your children along for an impromptu STEM lesson on neighbourhood wildlife. 
Unleash the fun. The best way to stay warm in the winter months is to keep moving. Have a snowball fight with your kids. Create an obstacle course in your backyard for your whole family to enjoy. Build a fort with your children. Light a fire and invite friends to roast marshmallows. 

Clean up your yard. It only takes a few minutes to get the benefits of being outside, so look around your yard to see what kind of tidying up you can do. Clear debris and pathways from areas you might need to clear of snow or clean out flowerbeds in anticipation of spring planting. 

Plan for spring. If cold days have you dreaming of warmer temperatures, start making plans for what you want to plant when spring arrives. Sketch a map of your yard and research the best plantings for each activity zone you want to create. Check Canada’s Plant Hardiness Zone Maps to determine which plants are best for your microclimate so your plants will thrive with less work on your part. Think about how to creatively use plants to create privacy for an outdoor office or beautify your entertaining area. 

For more, sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from The TurfMutt Foundation here. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit

*This is educational information only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Please contact your physician if you are concerned about your physical and/or mental health.  

About the TurfMutt Foundation
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute of Canada’s (OPEIC) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Championed by Foundation spokesdog, Mulligan the TurfMutt, and through education partners such as Weekly Reader, Discovery Education and Scholastic, TurfMutt has taught students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” Today, TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt has been an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat was featured in the 2017-2020 Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information at


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