Parenting requires you to tap into your creative energies and to foster your problem solving skills like never before in order to overcome the biggest of challenges that the littlest of the human race can generate. This holds true when it comes to finding a balance between family time and exercise time. Family walks are a great solution. Incorporating games and other activities into your family walks can keep boredom (and complaints) at bay. Here are a few creative walking games and activities that can motivate and entertain the kids while you are out on a family trek:
- Guided Tour: Children love to role play. Get them interested in the family walk by allowing them to take turns as the tour guide of your walking adventure. Have your child lead the walk and point out the "attractions" along the way. For instance, if the family's favorite ice cream shop is on your route, your child could say "And here to your left is where the best fruit smoothies are made in town."
- Scavenger Hunt: The thrill of discovery can motivate. Prior to setting out on your walk, find a small pad of paper and pencil that your child can carry during the walk. On the paper, write a list of items that your child is to look for on your walking path, such as flowers, interesting stones, colorful birds and rabbits. As she finds each item, have her check it off the list.
- Traveling for Treasure: Who says you have to leave the yard to get in a good walk? Traveling for Treasure requires a family member to hide a small object, such as a stuffed toy, somewhere in your yard. Once hidden, the hider draws a map with clues as to where the item can be found. The seekers then follow the map and walk to the hidden treasure. Once the item is found, the game is continued with another family member assuming the role of the hider.
- Scrapbook Adventure: Children are more likely to maintain an active lifestyle into adulthood when positive associations with exercise have been formed starting at a young age. You can foster this by having your child create a walking scrapbook or journal. Bring a camera on your walk and take pictures of interesting finds along the way. Have your child collect leaves, pine cones, flowers, etc., found on the walk. At the end of your trek, let your child arrange and glue the items into a scrapbook. Also, encourage your child to write down a few thoughts about the walk to help bring back positive memories when the scrapbook is perused at a later date.
- Tangible Rewards: It can be difficult for children to grasp the importance of regular exercise, particularly in reference to chronic diseases, which may not manifest until adulthood. Providing your children with an incentive that can be experienced in the present or immediate future may help to foster compliance. Include a destination, such as a favorite relative's house, into the family walk to help give the activity a more concrete purpose. Or, hold an award ceremony after a certain number of family walks have been completed. Certificates can be handed out for various achievements accomplished during the walks (e.g., best "tour guide").
Family walks are a great solution to the time constraints parents face. To learn more about the benefits of walking or to locate a walking path in your area, visit the website of Every Body Walk!
. To find more information about children and exercise, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Labels: children, Every Body Walk, family exercise, family fitness, parents, walking