May is National Walking Month and the sun is shining so it’s the perfect time to encourage lazy little legs to get out and about. Walking is super good for you and for your children (in fact, research has shown that just 20 minutes walking a day can have significant health benefits) so it’s especially fab as a fun, easy and (most importantly!) free way to get fit.
If your kids are loathe to leave the TV screen, here’s how to encourage them to have a real life adventure in the Great Outdoors.
Choose Somewhere Interesting
Let’s face it, no one really enjoys being dragged up and down their local high street. Kids are never going to enjoy walking if they find it boring so your first task as walk leader is to scout out some interesting locations. If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast, beaches are filled with fun and interesting things to look at, from rock pools to sand dunes. Woodland walks, parks and other places where there’s plenty of nature to spot are also always fun.
Get this habit instilled early on and you’ll have dog-walkers for life.
Take it Easy
Make sure you pick the right time to get kids interested in walking. For example, don’t start on a day where you have somewhere to be and you’re running late. Walks should be fun, leisurely affairs so rushing little ones along will only cause them to associate the activity with stress. Choose a day when you’ve got time to take your time.
Make Walking Fun
If simply choosing an interesting place to walk isn’t doing the trick, there are lots of other ways to make walking fun. Why not organise a long-ranging treasure hunt or an activity sheet packed with interesting facts or pictures of plants and wildlife to check off? Photography is also a really great way to make walks go quickly; give your kids a (sturdy!) camera and ask them to snap anything interesting they see. The National Trust and other similar locations also often do treasure hunts or nature trails for kids so make sure to check out what’s going on in your area.
“I spy… Dad stuck in a tree.”
Take a Picnic
When in doubt, snack! Picnics are a great addition to any outing because they give your walk a purpose. Ask your little one to help you choose a good picnic spot and then plan your route there. They’ll have lots of delicious goodies to look forward to on the way there and the walk back will help them burn off any extra energy from too many sweets.
Of course not all children are going to relish walking around the woods, picnic or no picnic. If you’ve got some really stubborn sitters on your hands, try sneaking walking into other fun activities instead. Theme parks, museums, activity centre and tours are all exciting things to do that involve a lot of walking. Plus, unlike a stroll down the beach, all the entertainment is already laid on for you. Easy!
“If I just keep talking about space she won’t notice we’ve been walking for two hours…”