You’d be hard pressed to find a simpler activity than walking, but the benefits of doing so with your children are surprisingly complex.
After a family moves past the baby stroller days, the act of going for a walk may tend to happen infrequently at best. We are missing great opportunities, however, by tossing this activity aside. Consider establishing a practice of going for a walk together with your family. You’ll be glad you did.
Take in the Fresh Air
Getting out into the fresh air is a delight if you can take the time to recognize and enjoy it. Whatever the season, dress appropriately, of course, and get out in it. Breathe in and feel the wind, the temperature, and the environment around you.
Open the Lines of Communication
As you take each step, give lots of room for your children to talk to you about their ideas, things happening in their lives, their concerns, their dreams and wishes, their favorite book—anything and everything. Listen intently, as your walk allows for the time and space to do so.
Sharpen Skills of Observation
As you and your family walk, you’ll observe the world at a human pace (as opposed to speedily scrolling through your social media feed, for instance). Encourage your children to be curious, and use all five senses as you notice what’s around you. Consider allowing your children to take pictures or bring along a sketchbook to capture what they find.
Be Truly Present
Revel in the act of being truly present with your family as you walk. Your mind should not be on what has happened in the past or on worrying about what may happen in the future, but on the present moment—when you are enjoying quality time with your loved ones.
Along the way, your children may find items in nature they can utilize in their arts and crafts projects or that they may simply collect. Shells, acorns, pine cones, sticks, rocks, leaves—the possibilities are endless. Being along a small bag or container to hold treasures found along the way. Be careful to observe any posted rules about collecting items so that you do not damage the environment.
Collecting is an element of the experience that might motivate the kids next time.
Reap the Physical and Mental Benefits
A habit of walking has been proven to benefit healthy weight management, improve cardiovascular health, increase absorption of vitamin D, decrease stress, and improve mental health. Studies have also shown that spending time in nature increases overall happiness.
Develop a Lifetime Habit
Maintain a regular habit of walking with your children and encourage them to see this activity as an important part of life. It is a habit they can do anywhere at virtually any stage of life and one that can benefit them throughout their lives.
It could not be a simpler way to nurture a culture of exploration, curiosity, physical activity, and happiness. Gather the family and go for a walk.