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Family Life Featured Fitness

Family Hiking

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Hiking is a popular and enjoyable outdoor activity for all ages. Not to mention it is great exercise! Children like to be active and they love the outdoors. Hiking provides a fantastic way to spend quality time with your family; it is also a wonderful way to teach your children to love and respect nature.

Here are a few tips on hiking with the family:

  • Plan your family hike according to the youngest child’s ability.
  • Plan to take many breaks – little legs tire easily!
  • Start the day with protein snacks such as peanut butter and crackers or cheese, and bring lots to drink; children can get dehydrated easily.
  • Play games to encourage children to observe what’s around them. “I Spy” and “20 Questions” are great starters. Have the children look for animal tracks – count rocks, birds, or flowers as you hike. Bring a magnifying glass or binoculars so they can see things up close.
  • To motivate the children – build anticipation and excitement around what lies ahead (a waterfall, river or lake).
  • Let your child carry their own backpack. It will give them a sense of purpose and engages them in the hike. Be sure to keep it light.

What to Bring

Aside from the obvious (water, snacks, and a small first aid kit) you may also want to bring:

  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats.
  • Wet wipes and tissues.
  • A warm blanket
  • Disposable camera – children love to take their own pictures!
  • Extra dry clothing and socks

Safety Considerations

  1. Check your first aid kit before each trip. Replace missing items (like sterile bandages and latex gloves).
  2. Ensure children wear appropriate footwear. They don’t need expensive hiking boots – simple running shoes are adequate.
  3. Children can become chilled faster than adults. Dress them in several light layers, which can be removed as they get warm, or added as they get cold. Bright colours are a good option, so they can be seen easily.
  4. Keep young children in sight at all times during the hike.
  5. Older children should be encouraged to stay in sight, or within earshot. A whistle pinned to the outside of their coats is a great idea. Whistles are louder than yelling, and easier to sustain.
  6. Teach the children the “Stay Put” rule – if they think they are lost, they must stay where they are, and wait for help. Before you leave home, agree on a signal – for example 3 blows on the whistle to indicate “I’m lost” or “I need help.”

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