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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Reach for the Sky: 9 Benefits of Hiking for Kids

Photo by Jeff Turner (Flickr)

When my girls were little, they loved taking nature walks around the block. They'd look at flowers, try to find bugs, and enjoy the fresh air. Now that they're older, we hike local trails and get a workout as we look for wildlife and identify trees. Whether your kids are ready to tackle Mount McKinley or have never been on a hike, now's a great time to start enjoying this fun and beneficial activity. Hiking can have plenty of benefits for the whole family, especially the kids.

Exercise Your Body

If you're looking for a fun way to exercise, take a hike. Walking on flat trails or up hills gives your whole body a physical workout as you tone your legs, strengthen your core, and get your heart pumping. It's fun, too!

Connect With Nature

Your kids connect with nature when they explore the outdoors. I challenge my kids to use their five senses and make hiking a truly sensory experience as they gain an even bigger connection with the natural world around them.

Hone Survival Skills

You don't have to be a hardcore survivalist to hike, but you will need to make basic preparations. Packing gear like a map or compass, flashlight, rain poncho, charged cellphone, first aid kit, matches, water, and food could end up saving your life if you get lost or injured, and these precautions teach your kids how to survive and be prepared.

Enjoy Family Time

If your family is like mine, you're busy and could use more time together. Why not reconnect and laugh as you hike? My girls and I often play "I Spy" as we look for colorful plants and wildlife, or we'll ask each other questions about our week as we enjoy family time.

Refine Motor Skills

As kids climb, walk, jump, and explore, they also refine their motor skills and learn their body's capabilities and limits. This benefit makes hiking an ideal activity for kids of all ages.

Improve Mood

Are your kids angry, frustrated, or bored? Tell them to strap on their hiking boots and take a walk through the woods, in a park, or along a river. The fresh air and exercise will improve their mood in no time. It definitely works for my girls!

Learn About Nature

For the ultimate educational experience, walk in nature and interact with trees, plants, and animals. My girls often take pictures of interesting plants or bugs to research later.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Social pressures, home tension, or world events create stress or anxiety that's tough for kids to handle. Hiking and time in nature can reduce these emotions. I know I feel calmer and more centered after a hike, and this activity can help your kids be mentally healthy, too.

Inspire Creativity

Are your kids struggling with a troublesome social situation or a big test? Hiking provides an escape from the daily routine and inspires creative problem-solving. You'll appreciate this benefit, too.

When was the last time your family took a hike? Today's a great day to go on a nature adventure. With these nine benefits, you'll enjoy a healthier and happier life. See you on the trail!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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