Take a Walk!
Summertime is a delightful season to take walks, but if you incorporate the activity year-round, that’s all the better. Doing regular exercise is critical to prevent any couch potato tendencies. Simply putting one foot in front of the other several times a week can put a dent in childhood obesity and pull your kiddos away from television, computer and video games. Actually, children ages 6 through 12 need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Walking together is the most inexpensive, fun way to get that exercise in and garner some super quality family time!
Something I did while my son was practicing football or soccer was to walk around the track as he practiced. That way, I could watch him and get some exercise in during a busy day—plus it set an example for my son, and other moms joined me! If no track is handy, get a few moms and join a gym close by and plan to exercise during practice times.
With the new fitness monitors, you can make a game out of counting steps and have the kids keep track and guess how many steps it will be from home to the playground. Fitbit and Garmin have devices designed specifically for kids.
Plan rewards on the walk. For example, make your turnaround spot a store or market where you can grab a healthy treat. Bring along treats or prizes to give at milestones along the way.
When you have the whole family and friends along, make up games. When you hear a dog bark, a bird chirp or a car horn honk, the person in front runs to the back of the line. Keep your kids’ attention peaked and incorporate some interval training by challenging yourselves to change up the walk. Options could be to run for a block, hop, skip, slide sideways and more. Have your kids pick what they want to do next.
The old follow the leader game is a fun way to give your kids responsibility and make them the star. For example, have your daughter lead and everybody is to do what she does, whether she whistles, sings, spins her arms, stops and does a push-up—whatever. This promotes concentration and creativity. And your child will like that you have to mind her!
Ann Scheer, mom of two kids, ages 10 and 7, likes going for walks on a regular basis. "We like to mix up our walks going around our neighborhood, to the local dog park or at one of the playground parks around town,” she says. “Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's a nice way to get some fresh air."
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.
Take turns creating a poem-on-the-go. Start off with a simple line like, "I really love to take a walk." Then have kids add their own rhymes in turn like, "except when I forget my sock," "and then I step on a rock," and so on.
A good way to help your kids think of the walking time as a treat is to purchase special walking clothes for them. When it’s time to walk, they’ll have fun donning a certain pair of sweats or pants and tennis shoes that make them feel big and strong. Any time kids can relate an activity with a certain piece of clothing it will trigger lasting emotions.
Judy Goppert lives in Lee’s Summit. She enjoys drawing on her personal experiences to write about the nuances of everything wonderful about life.