How can I introduce my child to walking for fitness?

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Introduce them simply by bringing them out for a short walk. As you walk, point out different areas to give them landmarks and to make memories. If the area is somewhere you grew up then show them different areas where you used to play. Or if your child knows some of the neighbors then point out where they live. Be sure to keep active conversation to keep them involved. A quiet walk would surely be no fun and the memories would not be positive.

It’s not often that children get our complete undivided attention, so make sure that the walks are all about them. Take a moment before you leave to clear your head of distractions, turn off your phone and don’t have a set destination. Start with a walk around your neighborhood and with the exception of areas that may pose a danger, let your child do the navigating. If you’re walking with more than one child have them take turns choosing which streets to turn down. Let them direct the conversation as well, and really take time to listen to them. Small kids won’t have trouble doing the talking, but teens and pre-teens may need a conversation starter. Keep it simple and non-threatening, point out a flower that’s always been a favorite, or a car and how it reminds you of a friend from high school, or go as far as pointing out the artistry in a piece of graffiti. Once they get inspired, let them do the talking and not only will you both be doing something healthy for your bodies, you’ll be strengthening your relationship with your child and learning more about them at the same time.

Children learn by example.  Make time to take fitness walks yourself and take your child with you.  Make it fun.  If you have a park close by, take your walks at the park. A lot of parks have obstacle courses that make the walk fun and challenging. Turn your walk into short races for your child by selecting a distance that you both have to skip to.  Then run to the next goal.  You can vary it up by going a short distance backwards.  By keeping it playful, your child gets the exercise you are looking for, will want to do it again, and you have some wonderful memories to carry with you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.