There’s nothing quite like hiking deep into the woods and spending time in nature. No matter where you go or how many times you walk a specific path, there’s always something new to see or discover along the way. And your little one is likely to feel the same. From the tiniest snail to the wide-eyed owl, there’s so much for your children to experience while hiking. Not to mention, it’ll benefit them — and you — in multiple ways:
1. Burns Calories
The first and most obvious reason to take your children on the trail is that it’s effective at burning calories. Hiking ensures your child stays fit and active. Researchers recommend children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This level of movement can be hard to sustain indoors with limited space. Lacing up your sturdiest boots and taking your kids outdoors for some fun is a great way to ensure they get their recommended daily dose of exercise.
2. Improves Sleep
Any parent knows the more activity your child engages in throughout the day, the better they’ll sleep that night. Luckily, hiking can be an excellent way to tire out your energetic little ones. Take a more challenging route with hills or obstacles to keep older kids engaged, or take a longer scenic route with younger ones.
Both the physical exertion of this activity and the sunlight will help them sleep better. Natural sunlight regulates the body’s internal clock, letting it know when to wake and sleep.
3. Develops Motor Skills
Playing in the great outdoors also helps young children develop motor skills. For three-year-olds, simply skipping or hopping down a dirt path can help them fine-tune their motor abilities. For slightly older children who are keener to explore, jumping off logs or boulders or stepping over fallen branches can improve their coordination and balancing skills.
Hiking trails offer many opportunities for children to develop these skills freely. Some outdoor parks with hiking trails even have obstacle courses to check out. Plus, the experience is fun, encouraging them to explore and test the limits in a safe way.
4. Teaches Kids About Nature
Exploring the trails can also be an educational experience. By exposing them to wildlife and plants, you introduce them to a whole new world of nature. The things you can teach them are practically limitless. From survival skills to plant and animal track identification, there’s so much for your little ones to discover while hiking. Many parks and nature reserves also have information centers where kids can learn even more about their surroundings.
5. Builds Character
If you’ve ever hiked a mountain or backpacked in extreme temperatures, you know completing a trail can be hard. Convincing yourself to press on can be a challenge. Imagine how much more difficult those trails would be as a child. Taking your kid on longer trails or more challenging hikes can build that same sense of perseverance and character within them.
Depending on the path, your child may become tired or easily defeated. But teaching them to persevere will instill the importance of resilience and boost their confidence. Just be sure to heed their limits and avoid pushing them past a reasonable amount.
6. Encourages Imagination
If you reflect on your childhood for a moment, you’ll likely find many memories involved being outside, pretending to be a pirate, fairy or Jedi. You let your imagination run wild, and play-pretend was probably a typical activity. Nowadays, though, kids don’t get to use their imagination like they used to.
Today, children are overstimulated, under pressure and unable to cultivate a sense of wonder. Hiking, however, allows kids to create, discover and imagine. This outdoor exploration gives them time and space to use their minds and grow into the people they’re meant to be.
7. Provides Quality Family Time
Pediatricians recommend children under a year old to have no screen time, while kids between the ages of 1 and 5 should have no more than one hour of it daily. Yet, roughly 87% of children exceed this recommendation.
Too much screen time can stunt child development and growth and even affect their communication and social skills later in life. Of course, this increased amount of time in front of screens has also minimized family bonding within the home. Hiking, therefore, is an excellent way to get kids away from technology and bond in nature.
8. Offers Tons of Fun
This reason may be entirely subjective, but hiking is an absolute blast. Spending time in the great outdoors comes with so many benefits, but the pure joy of exploring nature tops them all — in my not-so-humble opinion. Enjoying the greenery and wildlife is such a wondrous experience, and your kids should have the chance to enjoy it.
Even if they never love hiking with the same zeal as you or I, at least they’ll be able to enjoy all the other benefits that come with walking, skipping and hopping along trails.
Take Your Kids on an Exciting Hiking Adventure!
Now that you’ve learned the benefits of hiking, what are you waiting for? Your kids won’t know the astounding quality of the natural world until they experience it themselves. Take them on a trip soon and make lifelong memories of the things you encounter.
Article Submitted By Community Writer