According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20% of American adults meet aerobic and muscle strengthening guidelines, and less than 30% of U.S. adolescents are physically active daily. Physical activity is absolutely essential to good health. This is true for children as well as adults. Many of us find it difficult to make time for physical activity, however. It’s not always easy to dial in that perfect balance of work, family, and health.
Try combining family time and healthy movement to help you find the balance you’re looking for. Family walks are a wonderful way to keep the whole family active! Walking doesn’t require special equipment, it’s an activity that can be done with kids and older adults, it allows for great conversation and family bonding, and it’s good for you!
Here are 10 tips to help make sure your family enjoys your family walk!
Start with a walk around to block or plan on walking for 15-20 minutes. You can gauge your family’s abilities and work towards increasing the amount of time and distance your family walks.
Take a familiar route
Stick to a route that you know until your family is confident going on family walks. Try to walk in low traffic areas with sidewalks, street lights, and crosswalks.
Make your walks enjoyable
Make a scavenger hunt or play games. Tell jokes and share stories. Carry a trash bag and pick up litter along the way. Find ways to make your family walk fun!
Bring your dog
Your dog is part of the family too, right? Dogs, like people, need exercise every single day. Bring your pet along to share in the fun!
Track your distance
Carry a pedometer, fitness tracker, or a step counting app on your smartphone. It can be a lot of fun to see just how many miles your family walks each day, week, month, or year!
Choose a destination
A walk around the block can be nice, but sometimes it’s more fun to have a destination to walk to. Walk to the grocery store, to the park, or walk your kids to school.
Walk in nature
Your neighborhood may be lovely, but it’s hard to beat a walk in nature! Take a walk in a park or choose a kid-friendly hiking trail near you.
Teach children traffic rules
Family time, exercise, and a learning experience all in one?! Take the opportunity to educate your kids on traffic rules. Tell them what each road sign means. Help them learn how to look both ways before crossing a street, use crosswalks, and be a responsible and safe pedestrian.
Know what time the sun sets before heading out for your family walk. It’s more difficult for drivers to see you as the sun goes down, especially in areas without street lamps.
Wear reflective clothing or take a flashlight with you if you’re walking at night.
Bright colors can help make you more visible to drivers.
Always follow traffic laws, and be alert when crossing streets or driveways.
Walk every day
Establish a routine and go for a family walk every day. Healthy routines can become healthy habits. Choose a regular time that you and your family take a stroll together. Maybe take a walk after dinner, or wake up early and walk in the mornings.