Being a physically active person reduces your risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and many other health issues. But it starts with the habits we form as children. Recent research has suggested that childhood exercise has a preventative and protective effect. Providing adults with better health in later years.
But when your child comes home from school, perhaps the only thing he or she wants to do is sit in front of the TV or play on a mobile device?
Getting kids up and moving can be as difficult as prodding ourselves to hit the gym. And let’s face it, we don’t always succeed in getting ourselves to stick with our own exercise plans.
So what’s the solution to getting our children more active? The good news is that even a walk counts toward increased physical activity. And everyone, even kids who hate sports, can manage to fit in a walk per day. The benefits of walking are numerous. Harvard Medical School lists the following:
- It serves as a preventative against weight promoting genes
- It keeps your sweet tooth in check
- It reduces your risk of developing certain cancers
- It boosts your immune system
Naturally, walks should be limited to pedestrian walkways. And a word of caution from a personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX, “Because pedestrians typically have no safety gear as a bicyclist would and are not afforded the same protections as anyone inside a vehicle, the injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident can be catastrophic.”
So teach your kids pedestrian safety rules. With that out of the way, here are some ideas that can help get the whole family out the door and getting in more steps.
Make it part of your family routine.
Every day after dinner, go out for an evening stroll altogether as a family. Watch the sunset or sunrise. Talk about your day. Walk the dog. Play at the nearby park. Use your walk to unwind from a long day or to connect with your kids before the day starts. Establish your walk as part of your family routine. Sure, your kids might balk at first, but remain firm. You never know, it might turn into your family’s favorite ritual if you stick with it.
Explore your area’s outdoor spaces.
How many parks or outdoor spaces do you have in your area? List them all up and explore each of them in turn. Bring a frisbee or a soccer ball. Pack up your dinner and eat it outdoors. Having a destination in mind can help provide structure to increasing your physical activity. If you live near a forest or some foothills, all the better. Go for a nature walk with your kids. Walking in nature has many more benefits than simply walking around the block.
Be scavengers or collectors.
Turn each walk into an opportunity to find beauty along the way. See who can spot the most bugs. Or who can find the most original looking leaf for a nature display. The strangest colored rock for your garden’s rock collection. A rare bird to take a picture of. A four-leaf clover. Setting out with a purpose can help direct your kids’ energy away from complaints and toward engaging with their surroundings.
Get Fitbits or step trackers for your family.
Having a way to keep track of how many steps each person is logging is a terrific way to prompt more walking and physical activity. Set a goal as a family to log in a certain number of steps every day. See who reaches it. It might be a challenge to hit 10,000 steps on the first try, so you could go for a lower number and slowly increase the step count as you go along. Turn it into a game by awarding prizes for the individual who logged in the highest number. Additionally, apps like Pokemon Go can turn the outdoors into one large game!
Have your kids document their walk.
Does your child love to take pictures? Give your kid a camera and you might find it difficult to keep up with him. When kids are interested and engaged in the outdoors, the walk and the exercise don’t even register. Discuss ways to get better shots. Talk about what he or she can photograph next. Look for picture opportunities that might take a bit of a hike to get there, but will be worth it for the exercise you logged and the picture as a reward.