When you’ve got a family, getting out to go walking can be difficult – most children would prefer the PS4 to a 3 mile walk. But with childhood obesity a growing problem for us in the UK, we need to get more children taking exercise – and walking is a great way to do that.
Walking in parks and the countryside is such a cheap and easy way to get out and enjoy nature whilst getting in some quality family time and exercise for parents and children.
Getting children into walking at a young age can influence their habits in later life, hopefully leading to a healthier, more active lifestyle.
So how can you get your young ones interesting in walking? Here are some useful tips...
Make the idea sound like fun
Don't say "who wants to go for a walk". Instead ask "who wants to explore the forest". If it sounds like a game, young children are more likely to be excited.
Choose an interesting spot
Make sure that you choose a walk location carefully. Straight routes and flat paths are boring. Children like places where there is lots to look at. They like to climb over things like logs and on beaches and streams.
If there is a famous landmark, all the better, whether that be a place linked to a sport or famous person.
Dress them properly
Make sure that their shoes fit properly and are the right kind of shoes for walking. Likewise, clothes should be loose-fitting and not too hot or cold. Layers are always best. For a real treat, give them a small knapsack to carry. Then they can hold the bits that they find along the way.
Keep the pace slow
There is nothing worse than a parent striding ahead and yelling "come on" or "hurry up". If they want to dawdle, dawdle with them--it is part of the experience.
Make up games as you go
To keep things lively and fun, make up stories, play follow the leader or hide and seek. In the Barrow experiment, they have "log books" for children to fill in, listing things that they have spotted or collected. Treasure maps are fun if they are easy and the "treasure" can be a healthy treat.
Walking with very young children may require a pram or buggy. To ensure an enjoyable walk, it’s helpful to find out in advance whether the route you are taking will be accessible. On the Walks Around Britain website, the number of styles and the grading of the route will help you decide whether the walk is suitable for buggies.
Alternatively, use a baby carrier. Baby carriers are great and comfortable for both the child and the adult, and can have an amazing amount of storage too for all those baby-related essentials.