Get Your Kids Excited About Hiking
It is the heart of summer in South Africa, and there is no better time to enjoy the great outdoors! It has been proved that being active, outside in nature is great for mental and physical health.
Now, we certainly already know how it benefits us as adults. Especially those who work at a desk behind a computer all day. Getting some fresh air and immersing yourself in nature truly rejuvenates the soul. But have you realised how beneficial being outdoors is for kids, and how these benefits transcend merely physical fitness?
The Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Kids
1. Vitamin D
Exposure to sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and overall well-being.
2. Sensory Development
Nature engages all five senses, sight, smell, sound, touch, and even taste in some cases. By allowing your children to roam free, and take in the various sounds, textures, and colours, you are promoting sensory development.
Being in nature encourages children to use their minds as they engage with the various, interesting elements. This fosters a healthy sense of creativity which could, in turn, lead to healthy independent play.
4. Mental Well-being
Being outdoors in nature can greatly impact your mental well-being, for both children and adults. There is no doubt that nature holds a sense of calming properties, in fact, many studies suggest that being in nature can lower stress levels.
5. Environmental Awareness
We must ask ourselves this question, how can we expect our kids to protect an environment that they do not know? Being outdoors in nature regularly, fosters a positive relationship between oneself and the natural environment. Therefore, when kids develop this understanding of nature from a young age, it encourages an appreciation of nature which in turn, leads to a strong environmental awareness.
How to get kids excited about hikes
Now that you know some of the amazing benefits that being outdoors has for kids, you are probably wondering how to encourage them to not only go outdoors but enjoy it. We have put together a list of ideas that we think will work!
1. Make it a family affair
The busyness of day-to-day city life can often get in the way of quality family time during the week. Hence, making hiking a quality family time activity is a fantastic way to give your kids something to look forward to on the weekends or even mid-week. Bond together as you enjoy some fresh air and look at stunning flora on your hikes. And of course, don’t forget our furry friends. Find hiking trails where you can take your pets with you, as this adds another fun element to the whole activity.
2. Include imaginative play
During your hike, try and add a gaming element, as this will create some fun throughout the hike. Perhaps you could tell a nature-themed story about certain flora and fauna that you encounter, or even a game of ‘I Spy’ will add some fun.
3. Scavenger hunt
Before embarking on a hike, print out a fun scavenger hunt, and ensure that there are prizes for whoever spots everything on the list. This is yet another fun gaming element to add to a hike.
4. Pack a picnic
Pack a picnic for a mid-hike rest. This provides another great family bonding opportunity, as well as avoids any crankiness from hunger or being tired. Plus, it is no secret that kids look forward to special snacks reserved for special occasions. By bringing this out during hikes, you are creating a positive association with this particular activity.
Try to plan hikes with your kids regularly. This reinforces a positive habit that they can look forward to. Especially when creating positive associations with games, laughter, and fun.
Let us set a goal for this summer season: to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. You do not need to be an athlete or the fastest runner to appreciate all that nature has to offer. Just put on your favourite pair of Merrell trail runners or hiking boots, gather your family, and explore the great outdoors!