OVERVIEW: This work was completed through a collaboration between Hennepin
County Public Health and Hennepin County Housing and Economic
Development. Funding for this project was provided from the
Minnesota Department of Health through the Statewide Health
Improvement Partnership (SHIP).
For many, winter can be a challenging time to maintain an
active lifestyle. COVID-19 restrictions may greatly reduce
access to indoor spaces that many usually rely on during
the colder months, such as gyms, studios, indoor play
areas, pools, and shopping malls.
Communities can address these needs by re-imagining
the types o
f wellness activities that happen outdoors.
Engaging and supporting those who have not
participated in outdoor winter activities in the past will
be important to provide all community members an
opportunity to participate.
PROCESS / ACTIONS
• Think about indoor winter activities your community
has done in the past that could be taken outdoors,
such as exercise classes, craft making, organized
• Turn your summer activities into inclusive winter
fun: 5k runs, slow-roll winter bike events, snoga
(snow-yoga). These can be informal community
building opportunities, or potentially take on a formal
fundraising opportunity to rally around families,
organizations or causes struggling with finances or
• Work with community partners to eliminate barriers to
entry for underrepresented communities to participate
in classes, workshops, and events. These could include
ice skating, cross-country skiing, broomball, winter
biking, and winter safety education.
• Work with community partners to provide free
or subsidized winter activity equipment for
underrepresented communities, such as ice skates,
bike lights, cross country skis, snow shoes.
New Strategies of Creating Wellness
Q: How can we better support
people’s physical wellness and
active living with limited use of
A: Fully embrace what is
possible outside and support
those who are less comfortable
New Strategies of Creating Wellness in Winter 7
• Launch a donation drive for the procurement of free or
• Ensure that your sidewalks and park trails are
sufficiently well lit, shoveled, and free of ice. More
maintenance may well be required this season than in
years past due to higher rates of use.
Here are some key messages and information to consider
sharing with the public:
• We as a community are coming together to support
each other’s well being this winter.
• Make a pledge and join an online group to support
your commitment to winter wellness activities this
• Join fellow community members every week/month to
participate in winter activities at X time and X location.
• Constraints require us to get creative! Let’s band
together to come up with ways new and old to
navigate this unique winter together.
OTHER RESOURCES / TIPS
• Snow yoga (“snoga”) via MPR
• “The Frosty Challenge” (a winter weight maintenance
program). A worksite resource of the Hennepin County
Public Health Promotion.
• Hennepin County winter recreation opportunties via
Three Rivers Park District
Outdoor Places to Support
Commercial and Social Activity
Keeping people warm, engaged, illuminated, and
connected to other people are the key ingredients to
support winter activity.
Warm The goal is to have people feel warm “enough”.
You don’t need everything to be climate controlled,
but people need to be able to stay at a baseline level
of warmth and to recharge when needed. For areas like
outdoor restaurant patios, visitors need to be near a
constant source of warmth, such as gas or electric heaters
and fire pits, complemented by blankets and/or seat
warmers. Protection from the wind is also critical and can
be created through wind-breaks made of wood, tarps,
plastic, or other materials.
Engaged Having constant opportunities for engagement
is the best recipe to combat the idea that “bored people
are cold people”.
Illuminated The quality and impact of lighting becomes
a constant concern when faced with early sunsets.
Simple string lights in boulevard trees remain an effective staple
that not only illuminates but creates a feeling of warmth
and invitation. Video projections are a type of light source
that can become destinations themselves.
Connected To cultivate success make sure that your
events are in proximity to other community destinations.
In normal times, the solution is to pack as many activities
within your main street district as possible. But during
COVID-19, crowd size must be limited. Winter solutions
include increased wayfinding, the use of itineraries and
maps, low intensity activations occur over days and weeks
instead of larger features for just one day, and having
smaller “pods” of activities throughout a park or main