Outdoor Training With Your Kids: Fostering a Lifelong Love for Fitness
Starting your kids with fitness training early is important for their mental and physical development. One approach you can consider is taking your kids’ fitness training outside. Different forms of exercise in nature can feel more fun and enriching for children of all ages. There are different environments to explore, fresh air to enjoy, and experiences to gain. It’s worth taking a moment to explore some of the outdoor training options that can help foster a lifelong love of fitness.
Gaining the Holistic Benefits of Hiking
Hiking can be one of the most rewarding forms of outdoor training you can involve your children in. As a low-impact exercise, hiking or walking outdoors has several physical and mental health benefits, including weight control, improved flexibility and decreased likelihood of depression.
It’s also wise to involve them in planning hikes. Talk to them about what areas they’d like to explore and collaborate in researching nearby trails. Get them to help prepare healthy snacks and check your hiking equipment. These types of activities enable them to gain a sense of ownership over their hiking experiences, which can encourage them to adopt this form of training for the long term.
It’s important to approach taking kids hiking in ways that best leverage the benefits. Start by choosing trails that are age-appropriate for your children. Smaller kids may not have the stamina to get the most out of longer trails, while those with high energy levels can gain the most from spaces that have multifaceted landscapes with boulders and trees. You can also encourage their curiosity by prompting them to examine local biology or engage in geocaching.
Discovering Opportunities for Adventure
Being close to nature is physically, mentally, and emotionally enriching for kids. However, this doesn’t mean these elements are guaranteed to engage your children’s interest in this form of training. Rather, you may find it more effective to couple fitness with opportunities for adventure. By framing training in the context of discovery, you can boost your kids’ excitement about the activities as well as prompt unique bonding opportunities.
This may include camping trips to different types of environments. Camping can involve a range of physically and mentally enriching actions. There’s the muscle use from carrying packs, the cognitive components of setting up tents and other equipment, and the combined aerobic and problem-solving aspects of finding firewood or fishing for meals. You can begin with local expeditions to woods or parks to build your kid’s confidence, before upgrading to more ambitious trips to mountains or lakes.
If you’re based in the U.S. or planning to take a visit, you can enhance the sense of adventure by renting or borrowing a car to drive to some National Parks. This gives your kids the chance to explore a truly varied range of landscapes, from the canyons and mountain passes of Death Valley, California, to the lakes and trails of Denali Park in Alaska. These types of adventure not only introduce your kids to training in more challenging terrains but can also spark a love for exploration they retain their entire lives.
Collaborating with Others to Boost Impact
In some instances, outdoor training is not at its most enjoyable or effective when you keep your activities strictly within the family. Involving other people in the process can provide a more varied experience for your kids, not to mention expose them to different perspectives and sources of expertise on their outdoor training.
It’s worth taking the time to research local outdoor organizations. For younger kids, there may be groups that meet in outdoor playgrounds with apparatus designed to support their fitness, like balance beams and climbing nets. As your children get older, you may want to involve them — and get involved yourself — in outdoor activity organizations like Woodcraft Folk or Scouts. Engaging in physical activity while also making friends can encourage your children to keep participating.
Alternatively, you could help your kids to join outdoor sports teams. This doesn’t strictly have to be limited to traditional football or rugby groups. There are an increasing number of alternative sports organizations that include skateboarding, parkour, or Ultimate frisbee, among others.
Encouraging your kids to participate in outdoor training can help them adopt fitness practices that serve them both now and throughout their lives. Hiking can be a great opportunity for activities of various different intensities, depending on your child’s needs. Taking an adventurous approach with camping and visits to National Parks can also make their experiences more stimulating. Additionally, joining outdoor fitness organizations can enable them to gain from both the activities and collaborations with other kids.
If you’re not sure about what activities could be most positively impactful for your child, it can also be wise to consult a personal trainer specializing in kids’ fitness. They’ll be able to provide you with guidance on the activities that are most beneficial for your child alongside suggestions for keeping them engaged.