How to Energize a Walking Routine

Walking with Children

Far too often, parents find themselves exasperated when they attempt to go walking with children -- especially if the children are young.

There's no getting around it: If the children's legs are shorter, they will walk slower than you do. They may also want to use the walk as a time for adventure and exploration, which further slows down their pace.

One solution is to allow more time for each walk, so you can let the children walk at their own pace -- and enjoy yourself. You might also consider setting aside time for two walks, one on your own and one with your kids.

If you have only a limited amount of time for a single walk, you can walk with the child during your warm-up period and then push the child in a stroller when you pick up your pace.

When walking with the family, make sure to vary your route, even if you merely walk in the opposite direction every other day. You might also encourage the children to invite one or two of their friends along or have them walk the family dog.

One more useful variation: Let one of the older children lead another child who shuts his or her eyes. This is an activity that is often used by educators to heighten a child's awareness of his or her surroundings and develop the nonvisual senses. Be sure, however, that you keep an eye on them as they do this.

You might also try walking together to go out to dinner, to go shopping, or to go to religious services.

When walking along a road where there are no sidewalks, walk along the left side of the road, against the traffic. Teach children the rules of traffic, such as obeying traffic lights and crossing the street at crosswalks. And, as in driving, teach them to watch out for the other guy.

Finally, make sure the children wear light-colored clothing. If they are wearing dark cloth­ing, have them wear bright arm bands or hats. That way, motorists can see them better.

Will you be able to talk your children into walking with you and staying in a walking program? Yes, provided you set an example yourself, and support your children with positive feedback and encouragement as they adopt more active habits. In this way, you'll be able to maximize the health and happiness of your family's future generations.

Don't push your children into walking, however. Nagging won't do much good; you'll just turn them off to fitness. Try to encourage an atmosphere of cooperation and togetherness and a sense of adventure. Show them how much you enjoy your walks and they'll be more likely to follow your example.

Discover the benefits of walking vacations in the next section.

To learn more about walking, see: