Today marks the 16th annual Family Health and Fitness Day, which is meant to encourage families across America to trade time spent in front of the TV or computer for outdoor family activities, like a neighborhood walk or hike. Why is this initiative so important? Walking is one of the easiest and least-expensive ways to combat obesity and prevent illness.
Create a reward system. Keep track of the distance everyone walks and award nonfood prizes for goals reached. For example, reward your kids with toys that encourage activity — like bubbles, a Frisbee, bouncy balls, or a jump rope — even if they walk just a few blocks. These inexpensive gifts will keep them moving long after the walk has ended.
Walk to the beat. Sure, chatting is fun, but family walks don't need to revolve around conversation to be fulfilling. If your teenagers seem reluctant to walk with you, tell them you wouldn’t mind if they listen to their favorite music on their MP3 player — it might be just the thing to get their feet moving.
- Play a game. As you and your family walk, try playing a game that involves the changing scenery. "I Spy" and "20 Questions" are fun for young children. You can plan a scavenger hunt involving objects commonly found along your walking path — like pinecones, maple or oak leaves, or rocks of certain shapes or colors — and have your whole family participate. You can also teach them how to walk in intervals by racing them up a hill or on rough terrain.
By employing these new ideas, you'll likely find that your family will be happy to spend some quality time together. And who knows, getting outdoors for a walk may become a long-lasting family tradition that will keep you all fitter and healthier. Happy walking!