Around one in four Americans spends 90% of their day indoors, reports a survey by Velux. Children, meanwhile, spend just four to seven minutes per day on unstructured outside play, yet often spend hours a day glued to their screens. This phenomenon has given rise to what Richard Louv, author of the book Last Child in the Woods, has called ‘nature deficit disorder.’ Children, reports Louv, need time in nature to focus, boost their physical strength, and fight stress. If you are a parent who values time in nature, then you might already be going for long walks with your children. But how can you ensure that your children stay active and embrace the outdoorsy lifestyle, not just in spring or autumn, but throughout the year?
Changing Routes According To The Season
Repetition can be a big bugbear for creative kids who like to constantly discover something new. Try to plan different routes for each season, ensuring you make the most of the wonder of natural sites – even if you have to drive to a natural reserve, beach, or beautiful forest on weekends. As children build memories around different routes (which vary in difficulty), they will look forward to returning to their old jaunts as a new season approaches. The crunch of leaves in the autumn, snowball fights in the winter, early beach walks in the summer, and walks through a beautiful park in the spring – all these make up a fountain of memories that children will surely immerse themselves in when they are adults.
Planning Travel Around The Outdoors
If you are a traveling family and you love visiting cities and catching the latest cultural offerings in museums and other monuments, choose your destination wisely, making sure there are natural wonders as well as cityscapes to enjoy. If you will be visiting Switzerland, for instance, make sure to not only visit sites like the Jungfraujoch (the highest train station in Europe), but to walk back to your hotel along lush green trails surrounded by cows in their pastures. If you will be visiting a big city like Sydney, know that there are a plethora of walking trails for walkers of all levels. Some of the most well-regarded Sydney walks include the bushwalk by Barrenjoey lighthouse, the coastal walk comprising Manly to Spit Bridge, and Victory Track (a 3.9km track that goes through the stunning Clarinda falls). Make sure you stay long enough, since many tracks have nearby restaurants and scenic spots from which to take the perfect Instagram shots.
Investing In Walking Gear
Ensuring children are well equipped and comfortable will help make walking less of a chore in hot or cold months. For the hot months, invest in good ‘breathable’ shoes, and shorts and tops with Climacool features (so that sweat wicks away from the skin). In the winter, items such as high-collar jackets designed for colder climes, vests, pullovers, slim fit socks, shock-absorbing shoes, and rain and snow-proof beanies will keep your whole family protected against low temperatures and wind. Ensure you have great snacks as well – children love stopping at scenic points and enjoying a hot cup of cocoa and their favorite snack while looking out onto the expansive beauty of nature.
If you have children, starting them out on an exercise routine that involves walking is a wonderful way to ensure they get their required time outdoors. If children are old enough, they can enjoy walks throughout the year, provided temperatures are not too cold or too hot. In order to motivate kids, dress them up in comfy fashion, plan your travels around nature, and spend time researching different routes so they continue to discover new things every time they head into the Great Outdoors.
Photo by Daiga Ellaby