Ways to Make Family Walks Fun

You guys know how much I love bizarre holidays, right? Well, I happened to learn that July 27 was Take Your Pants for a Walk Day. Aside from completely cracking me up, this holiday got me thinking that it’s a great excuse to get my family active in honor of the day: “Come on, everyone! It’s time to take our pants for a walk!” That, in turn, got me thinking about other ways to make family walks fun for everyone. Here are some ideas!

Harry Potter Wizards Unite: If you can’t beat your smartphone addiction, you may as well let it help you get active. In this game, you play one of three roles in the wizarding world. In your role, you explore your community searching for adventures, and for objects and characters that will help you on your way. If wizards aren’t your (or your kids’) thing, you can also try Pokémon Go.

Do crayon rubbings: From hi-tech to low. Bring along all those naked crayons and some paper and do rubbings of whatever neat textures you find. Whether it’s a leaf, some gnarly bark, or the texture of the sidewalk or a brick, you’re bound to get some amazing art out of your walk. It will also be fun to see what different things each person notices on your family walks!

Have a goal: I don’t mean, like, a fitness goal—not that there’s anything wrong with trying to get healthy! There was a period a few years back when I wanted ice cream, like every day. For a little bit, my husband indulged me, but then he informed me that if I wanted ice cream, I was going to have to walk or run to the ice cream place of my choosing in order to get it. Well then. That challenge certainly got me off my butt and onto the sidewalk!

Get competitive: Okay, okay. Also consider fitness goals. Try entering local 5K events as a family. Many of them welcome walkers, so anyone of any fitness level or age can join in. Nothing says family bonding like matching t-shirts. And since many of these events are also charity events, you can feel good about helping out a cause you support.

Make it a game: Turn your family walks into a game. Count the number of something you see (colors, different types of birds/animals/trees, cars) on your walk. Play “I Spy.” Have a scavenger hunt.

Try a change of scenery: Family walks around the neighborhood while getting to know your neighbors are nice, but they can get a little boring. Whether you decide to go to the big park across town or hit the trails at the closest national or county park, mixing it up can make a family walk seem more like going for a “long explore,” as Pooh and his friends would say.

Involve the family pet: Speaking of getting to know people, nothing will help you make friends faster than walking with a dog. Plus, a dog’s excitement is contagious—and so is their energy. It’s hard to be slow and grumpy on a walk with an enthusiastic pup.

Pack a magnifying glass: This is definitely for a slower stroll, but bring along a magnifying glass (or, what the heck, everybody pack their own!) on your family walks and take the time to stop and look at whatever interesting thing catches someone’s fancy. A bug, a flower, a leaf, a rock, a bench slat—it doesn’t matter, just explore the world around you in all its glorious detail.

Orienteering: My daughter’s not a Scout, but my husband was. She recently found his old compass from his Cub Scout days and has been bugging him non-stop to teach her how to use it. Whether you actually head into a wooded area or just spend time in a local park or even your neighborhood, teaching your child to use a compass is a great way to get them—and you—out and about.

Break out a map: You can’t use a compass, you say? You’re not alone! Try a map instead. If, like me, you’re hopeless with maps, too, you can use maps to make something like a trip to the zoo even more fun. If, for example, you find your kids getting bored or restless, hand them the zoo map and let them navigate you to your next stop.

Fitness trackers: How many grown-ups out there have fitness trackers of one kind or another? And how many of our kids have seen us monitoring our fitness metrics on them throughout the day? That’s what I thought. Consider getting a tracker for your kiddo so they can join in the fitness fun. While my nearly-eight-year-old doesn’t obsess over hitting her activity goal each day, she does get excited when her tracker chimes that she achieved it. Use family walks to help them—and you—achieve activity goals. Garmin VivoFit Jr. 2, and FitBit Ace 2 are two kid-friendly tracker options.

What are your favorite ways to get your family up and active together? Share your tips in the comments.

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Christina lives in Northwest Illinois with her husband, daughter, and two English Springer Spaniels. Before becoming a reluctant stay-at-home mom, she worked in a variety of customer-service-oriented jobs while dreaming of living in the lap of luxury as a housewife. Unfortunately, having a child threw a wrench in Christina's plan to do nothing but eat bonbons while lounging in the Jacuzzi reading all day. Now, she spends her time looking for fun activities and crafts for her daughter and easy-to-prepare meals for her family, while trying not to land the kid in therapy when she grows up. Christina volunteers at her local library, and does both volunteer and paid work as a sexuality educator. She loves to read, and to learn about--and share--new products and resources.

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