Tips for Taking Fun Walks With Your Kids

Family Walking with Child and Dog
© michaeljung /

Once your children are walking on their own two feet, walking with them becomes enjoyable and challenging in new ways.

Childhood obesity is epidemic in the USA and other developed countries. Television, computer and video games and other screen time contrive to keep them inactive. Fears of stranger danger and lack of good pedestrian paths also make parents afraid of letting their children walk to school, to the store, or to the playground.

Walking with your children and setting a good example of doing regular exercise is critical in preventing your child from becoming a lifelong couch potato.

  • Family Walking Time: Set aside a family walking time, preferably for a half hour to an hour 3 or more days a week.
  • Dog: Get a dog that requires being taken for a walk one or more times a day. Walk together as a family or rotate turns in taking the dog for its walk. The dog will provide protection for the child and reduce stranger danger.
  • Walking Events: Spice up your walking by entering walking events with your child. Your child will have the thrill of earning medals, t-shirts, etc. for being active without competition.
  • Turn Wait Time into Walking Time: If your child is in organized sports, use the time between dropping them off and picking them up to get in a walk for yourself, either alone or with your husband or friends. It not only ensures you get some exercise in your busy day, it sets a good example for your child.
  • Pedometers: Children love having a pedometer to count their steps. Make step counting into a game and have them keep track, or guess how many steps it will be from home to the playground, etc.
  • Pokemon Go: Many families stroll while playing this virtual reality game. Kids love catching Pokemon with their parents and grandparents. It's a great excuse to visit local parks where there are more Pokestops. The app gives walking goals of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), 5 kilometers (3.2 miles) and 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to hatch eggs for new Pokemon.

Walking Without Whining

The "are we there yet?" syndrome is a fact of life for most moms walking with children. Children expect constant challenges and entertainment. You may have to work to keep their interest up and their whining down.

  • Explore Nature: Take along guidebooks for flowers, trees, birds and try to "bag" new examples on each walk.
  • Maps: Give your child the map and teach him/her how to read maps, identify north and south, and navigate. Encourage the child to draw a map of the route as you go along. You can use a mapping app on your phone and show your child how to use it.
  • Rewards: Plan rewards along the way. Make your turnaround at a store or market where a treat can be bought. Bring along treats or prizes to give at milestones along the way.
  • Keep it Interesting: Include playgrounds, streams, parks and other points of interest on your walking route.
  • Sports Watch or Walking App: Get your child a sports watch and encourage him/her to track the time, distance, splits, play with the stopwatch function.
  • Question of the Day: Use the walking time to really get to know your child. Have a question of the day to explore beliefs, values, talents.
  • Variety: Plan for variety. Adults may be happy with the same route day after day, but children are more easily bored. Change the route through the neighborhood, see new things.
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