Walking can benefit children as well as adults. It is a gentle activity that can help them get the exercise they need in a fun way. However, with all the attractions of modern day technology, it can be difficult to entice children outside. In light of this we thought we would look at ways in which you can help to make walking much more fun and appealing to younger members of the family.
-Research routes as a family. Go back to basics and get out several maps as they will be a bit of a novelty to children & teenagers who are used to having everything at the click of a button.
-Ask kids to pack their own ‘adventure back-pack’ the night before. This could include their lunch, a drink, a favourite toy, paper to draw pictures of the views and any spare clothing that might be required.
-Remember that during walks your children will probably get dirty – and love it! Dress them in old clothes and shoes which you don’t mind being worn to stamp through puddles or clamber over tree trunks. Fussing over keeping clean could cause a negative association with walking.
-Plan regular breaks to rest tired legs and try to incorporate some interesting attractions into your walk to break it up. This could be a visit to a castle, a boat ride or a stop at an ice-cream van.
-Play games along the way to help stop them getting bored. Eye spy is always a winner as is hide and seek (with the correct supervision). If you come to a stream or river with a bridge then you could have a game of pooh sticks (seeing whose stick can float fastest over a certain distance).
-You could make the walk into a bit of a scavenger hunt and arm your children with a list of items to collect as they go along; a green lead, a twig, a yellow flower and so on.
-Commit to walking at your child's pace and try not to get frustrated when they want to stop every few minutes to look at a stone or funny shaped twig.
-Ensure that they get exercise in between walks so that the momentum is maintained. This could be a walk around your local neighbourhood, a trip to the swimming baths or a few hours running around an adventure play area.
-Finally, make sure you take lots of pictures. Get some printed out and stick them into a 'diary'. Ask your children to write about their favourite parts of the walk in the diary. This will make a great keepsake.