Suggest a family walk and your children might well groan and roll their eyes, but once they’re unplugged from their screens and out with you, it’s amazing how quickly they transform into boisterous, red-cheeked children with seemingly limitless energy.
“Once you’re out of the door, you’ll have a happy family time - and the best bit is it’s free,” says Clare Lewis, co-founder of Adventure Walks Books. She suggests involving children in the process of leaving the house, from planning where to go, to packing small rucksacks, so they become excited rather than being passive.
Besides not having to fork out a fortune for fun, a family walk will bond you together with shared experiences and the opportunity to chat in a less intense way than sitting face to face.
Chris Bennett, Head of Behaviour Change at Sustrans, the UK walking and cycling charity which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, says: “Walking is one of the easiest ways to be active and it’s a great way to spend quality time together. Not only is it a good way to exercise, it’s also the perfect opportunity for children to explore their surroundings and gives them a sense of adventure and independence.
“Instilling a love of walking in children from a young age has long lasting benefits, as well as developing road awareness to encourage independent walking as a teenager, it also creates good habits for an active adult life.”
Clare Lewis also points out that walking with your kids will also instill in them a familiarity with their local neighbourhood, increasing independence and giving them a sense of resourcefulness and responsibility, and an interest in nature (and its fragility) and their environment.
What’s not to love about a family walk? Here are some ways to ramp up the enjoyment.
- 1Don't say 'who wants to go for a walk?'Alexander Nicholson via Getty Images
- 2Don't plod in a straight line - and back again.Stephen Lux via Getty Images
- 3Always have an appealing destination - and make pit-stops along the way.ArtMarie via Getty Images
- 4Join forces with another family or get the kids to bring their friends.Alistair Berg via Getty Images
- 5Walk together in a chatty clod, not a single line with you barking 'come on, keep up'Bounce via Getty Images
- 6Play games as you go.JLPH via Getty Images
- 7Turn your walk into a treasure hunt. Or an obstacle course.Imgorthand via Getty Images
- 8End on a high.ArtMarie via Getty Images