Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Top tips when hiking and walking with kids

Top tips when hiking with kids

Introducing your children into your fitness routine is a lot easier than you might think. With all of the jogging strollers and children's bike seats on the market today, there is almost always a way to bring your child along if you exercise outdoors. However, at some point you may realize that YOU are the one doing all of the work! In the past 20 years, the percentage of children that are overweight has tripled. It is extremely important to teach young children the importance of exercise early in their lives so that it becomes natural to them.

An extremely simple and enjoyable activity that you can do with your child is hiking. If you were a hiker before, you may have to change your hiking expectations a bit. You will not be able to go as far or as fast, but it can be a very rewarding and fun experience for both you and your child.

Children view nature differently than adults do; not only are they younger and more innocent about the world, but they are also closer to the ground so they see different things than we see. Expect your child to stop frequently to inspect flowers, plants, bugs, rocks, or other woodland sights.

Put some thought into what you will bring along on your hike. First, be sure that you and your child are wearing proper hiking shoes, preferably with ankle support. Whether or not you want to invest in hiking boots is probably a decision you will want to make after you judge your child's reaction to the first hike. Children of age 5 of older can carry a small pack with them. You'll want to pack a water bottle or juice box, small snack, hat, sunglasses, jacket (as needed), and a compass (optional).

If you have very young children you will want to invest in a child carrier that you can attach to your body, over your shoulders. The child will rest in a seat that leans against your back as you walk. He or she can easily see out over your head to enjoy the hike with the rest of the family.

To get your walking kids excited for the hike, plan it out like an adventure. Before the hike, compile a checklist as a family. Come up with things that you want to find on the hike, such as differently colored leaves, or rocks, different plant species, bugs, butterflies, tree bark, moss, pinecones, etc. Print or write out a list for each child if they want to carry their own. Or you could do a family checklist and have a parent be in charge of the list. This works better if your children are not yet able to read.

Teach your children to respect the earth. Hiking is a great time and place to teach children about natural resources, and how limited they are, as well as the importance of not littering. You can also have your children "help" the earth by picking up any trash they may see along the hike. Teaching your children to enjoy and respect nature, while simultaneously showing them the joys and benefits of exercise are lifelong lessons that they will never forget!

Christopher has been working as a home and office consultant for the past 15 years. He is happily retired and writes articles and weblogs in her downtime. His newest interest is in water softener systems. Come check out his website to learn more at