Now that the hot summer sun is giving way to more comfortable fall temperatures, it’s the perfect time to get the family outside again. Hiking is a great way spend time together, and it has so many benefits. It’s an activity that can include family members of all ages and skill levels, enhance all around physical fitness, boost happiness, improve sleep, encourage use of all five senses and foster a connection with the outdoor world. All this, and it’s FREE!
Here are some tips to help your family enjoy a hike this weekend!
- Start small and be realistic: Find a trail close to home and easy enough for all family members to complete. Save the long, challenging trails for after you become seasoned hikers!
- Wear appropriate clothing: Dress children in old clothing that can get dirty and have everyone wear sturdy, comfortable shoes.
- Don’t hurry: Let your child set the pace. Take time to appreciate and observe your surroundings and dwell on small objects like a leaf, a bug or a rock. Discuss the things you see with your children and ask them questions about what they notice along the way.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks: As a seasoned parent, you know this one! Try a protein rich trail mix loaded with nuts and dried fruit (and maybe some chocolate chips thrown in for fun!) or some fresh fruit. You could even pack and entire picnic and stop to eat it along the way.
- Teach respect for nature: Stay on the trail and explain that this not only keeps us from getting lost, but it also protects the surrounding plants’ and animals’ habitats. And, of course, don’t litter!
- Save electronic devices for true emergencies: As always, when you’re with your family, focus on your family. It is a good idea to bring a phone along in case there is an emergency, but keep it tucked away unless you truly need it.