A family walk is a great way to connect while being physically active. Like any routine, though, you may be feeling the need to spice it up. If your family is in a walking rut, try these four tips to boost the fun for everyone.
- Come with Questions: One of my favorite parts of family walks is not the physical activity. It is the time to talk with my daughter. Very rarely do we get one-on-one time, without a screen or other distractions vying for our attention. When we walk, it is easier to focus on one another and a great time to ask questions. Conversation starters are great for getting our chats going. They can be as simple as, "What should we have for dinner?" They can be as thoughtful as, "What is one thing you are thankful for right now?" Sometime we even get silly with, "Would you rather have purple spots all over your skin or green hair?"
- Listen to Music or Books: I bring my phone on walks in case of an emergency, but we also use it to listen to music. Usually, we end up dancing more than walking, which adds the perfect amount of spice to our routine. If music isn't your thing, try an audiobook. Instead of counting the minutes, walk until you complete a chapter. What a great way to exercise your body and mind!
- Track Your Mileage: We stay motivated by setting goals and tracking our mileage. I will start my watch at the beginning of our walk, and we will go until my daughter is ready to stop. When she realizes how close we are to a full mile, she just has to keep going. She loves telling her friends, cousins, and grandparents about her long walks. Creative tip: You can take it one step farther by making a mileage paper chain. For each mile walked, add a link so your child can have a fun, interactive visual.
- Change Your Scenery: You can only walk to the stop sign or around the block so many times! When you begin to sense burnout with your route, it may be time for a change of scenery. This can be as simple as doing your normal route in reverse, or you might try that new walking path you notice on your drive every day. Most communities have access to walking paths or trails – do some research to find new views you can enjoy while being active.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Why Walk? Why Not!, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Family Fun on the Run is a monthly newsletter designed to help families add physical activity to their already hectic schedules.