Get out and get active.

As difficult as this has been for people to do as of late thanks to the one-two punch of cold weather and COVID-19, options are still out there for those looking to keep fit and have fun.

“The city has done a good job with keeping some of its programming open to the public (during the pandemic),” remarked Chris MacFarlane, chair of Meadow Lake’s parks and recreation board. “I know swimming is still available and some skating is available. They’ve made it so you have to call ahead and book your spot, but the options are still there.”

Since winter’s arrival, concern has increased about the ability of young people throughout Meadow Lake and area, as well as other parts of the North, to remain as active as they normally would at this time of year considering there are no minor hockey games this year, the local curling season has been called off and school sports have also been cancelled because of COVID-19.

“Organized team sports are a little different,” MacFarlane added. “I know minor hockey still has the ability to practice. The way those practices look is way different, but it’s still there for those kids to operate through… Everybody is having the same issues when it comes to quarantining and with isolation – kids are going stir crazy and adults are going just as stir crazy.”

MacFarlane went on to say, however – from both a physical and mental health perspective – it’s important to stay active.

“I play rec. hockey and I play softball in the summer, and socializing is a big part of both,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan of all sorts of recreation, not just sports but general arts and culture, things like that as well.”

Studies show there are many reasons why being active in winter is important. Firstly, the vitamin D received from the sun goes a long way to helping a person feel healthy and strong. Any sort of physical activity, meanwhile, gets the blood flowing and also helps a person to maintain their health during flu season. It also has emotional benefits by helping to beat the winter blues, and it can help to prevent winter weight gain during the long months spent, for the most part, indoors.

“Of course, there are obviously many family activities people can do during the winter like sledding, going for a walk or taking your dog for a walk,” MacFarlane continued. “The city has done a great job keeping the walking path (at Lions Park) and the sidewalks around town clear this year. That’s important, and the city needs to continue to make sure it does that so we can all get out more. Hopefully people are leaning a bit on each other and finding some quality family time to help get through all of this.”

One way to stay active this weekend is by participating in the annual free fishing weekend held each year in conjunction with Family Day.

From Feb. 13-15, Saskatchewan residents and visitors can fish waterbodies that have an open sport fishing season without buying a fishing licence. It’s important to note, however, free fishing weekend only applies to provincial waterbodies outside of the national parks.

“Free fishing weekend is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and experience ice fishing, perhaps for the first time,”environment minister Warren Kaeding said.

During free fishing weekend, all other regulations apply, including possession limits and reduced limits on some lakes and rivers. Provincial rules also require anyone planning to transport fish out of the province must have a valid Saskatchewan angling licence during this weekend.

For more about fishing in Saskatchewan, check the Saskatchewan Anglers Guide, available wherever fishing licences are sold or online at www.saskatchewan.ca/fishing.

by Phil Ambroziak

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