When people talk about activities that are great for the body and mind, a lot of them talk about fairly standard forms of exercise. One thing that isn’t mentioned nearly enough is hiking. There are so many reasons why hiking should be something you take up. Not only is it inexpensive, but it’s an amazing workout for your legs and lungs. It also helps promote mental health, as do many exercises that take place in green areas. Short Rib is a super active toddler, though not at the stage where hiking is suitable just yet (he’s not hit two years old at the time of writing) it is something we’re going to look into doing with him later.
A lot of people also underestimate how good hiking can be for families. There are loads of great hiking spots in the UK, and many of them can be tackled by kids and young teens (provided you don’t intend to complete the entire thing!). If you’re interested in taking your family out for a hike, here are the things you need to keep in mind.
Take your time
The first time your kids go hiking, it’s going to be quite the experience. The keyword is ‘experience’; you’re not taking them hiking to turn them into muscular beasts! Make sure the hike you pick isn’t too long or difficult. Remember that your kids are going to want to explore loads of areas, which means that you’re probably not going to simply walk from one end of the hike to the other, the way most adults do. So account for both their limited physical abilities as well as their curiosity when you’re planning timeframes! For us, we’re probably going to be the ones holding up Short Rib, so there’s no problem taking our time here!
Remember the essentials
A lot could happen out there, especially with kids joining you. So make sure you have an inventory list of some kind. You don’t want it to be too expansive – you’re going to have to carry most of this, after all! – but remember that you can put some things in the car if you’re going to be driving there. You may be tempted to go tech-free, but having a phone on you can help you if things don’t go as planned. Keep the phone running all day with a powerbank! Some basic first aid items are also essential. Bring some plasters of varying sizes, as well as some antiseptic cream. And don’t forget the sunscreen if the sun is out! Most important, however, is water. Bring plenty of it.
Plan small breaks
Hiking takes more energy than a lot of newcomers expect! Kids don’t have the energy reserves that adults have, despite the common misconception that it’s the other way round. They also don’t have the strength you have. Basically, they’ll get tired quicker than you will. This is why you need to make sure you plan fairly frequent breaks. Bring snacks with you to help those breaks replenish energy even further! You can use breaks as motivators, too – if your kid is losing enthusiasm, tell them that you’ll take a break when you reach a destination in sight.
You can make pretty much anything fun for kids if you find ways to gamify it. Most parents are familiar with this sort of thing during road trips – playing I Spy or 20 Questions, naming landmarks or different types of animals, that sort of thing. Think of ways to implement these things into a hike! We’re at the stage where we’re pointing out colours to Short Rib in the supermarket to keep him entertained but obviously this gamification will get a bit more sophisticated the older he gets!
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