5 reasons why you should walk with your kids

5 reasons why you should walk with your kids 

I used to love walking. Don’t get me wrong, I was never an Everest sort of walker, but I did have one of those stick things which means I must have been serious!  We used to have 2 dogs, so this gave us the inspiration to get out every day regardless of how we felt. Cut to 6 years and 3 kids later; sadly the dogs have gone and so are the sticks.

After a recent walk though, I was reminded how disconnected I have become from the environment around me. I could give you a million excuses why I don’t walk anymore, the problem is they are just that - excuses! Today I ask myself what have I been missing and if walking could contribute to a happier family.

Feeling inspired, I decided to get outside again and this time I dragged my kids kicking and screaming with me. If you’re not quite convinced it’s time to dust off your old waterproof boots then here are 5 reasons to encourage you. 

1. Fresh air
We know we feel better after getting fresh air, but it’s scientifically proven to be good for us! To start with, thanks to photosynthesis, being out and in amongst the trees allows us to breathe air with increased levels of oxygen. This can counter the effects of air pollution which has an incredibly negative effect on health especially in our children. In fact research http://www.fs.fed.us/nrs/pubs/jrnl/2014/nrs_2014_nowak_001.pdf  states that exposure to fresh air actually saved 850 lives over the course of just one year.

2. Nature
Getting outside, away from the hustle and bustle of our hectic lives enables us to reconnect with the world and each other. A professor of psychology from the University of Rochester, Richard Ryan stated that, “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature."
Spending time in nature also develops an appreciation for the present moment. As you go on your adventure talk about things you can see, hear, smell and touch. Spending time outside and learning to appreciate the space fosters empathy and gratitude.

3. Turned off screens
I find it difficult sometimes to get the screens turned off in my house and to be fair, half the time it’s me. I love technology; Facebook, Twitter, watching films, heck I even love watching Eastenders in the bath on my phone, but what sort of example am I setting my kids? As part of the Contented Family Project I aim to change this and get me and the kids off our screens and out into the big wide world.   It’s important that we teach our children that life doesn’t only occur inside 2d images and walking is the perfect opportunity to make life 3d again.

4. Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone. I want my children to get used to this natural high. Modern diets and sedentary lifestyles have led to such high levels of obesity that globally 2.8 million people die every year as a result.  There are lots of ways to get yourself and your kids exercising but walking is something the whole family can participate in. Get your kids into a healthy lifestyle now and they will grow up with a positive attitude to it, even if it takes some initial persuasion tactics (a little cake usually works for us)!

5. Resilience
What happens if you walk in the rain? We don’t shrink, we just get wet! And there’s no such thing as bad weather, just a bad choice of clothes. Teaching our children that regardless of the conditions, we can have fun and still embrace the situation is a big lesson in resilience which goes hand in hand with happiness.

Resilience is described by www.mentalhealth-uk.org as ‘…the ability to cope with life’s challenges and to adapt to adversity.’ A change in the weather, a fall, a leaky welly, all present potential challenges when on a walk with kids. Let’s teach them to deal with these situations positively and to physically keep going regardless, with the hope that they can take these lessons and apply them to any situation throughout their life.

Lisa Barry has three children and manages (most of the time) to create a work life balance as both a mum and business owner.  When the kids aren't running circles around her, she is a copywriter working with fierce female entrepreneurs who want to raise their online visibility.

You can visit Lisa's website at http://www.lisabarryonline.com/