May 23 2014

Want a healthier family? Tell them to take a hike!

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We are Rockin’ N Rollin’ this summer with a Summer 2014 Healthy Lifestyle Challenge! Let us know what you are doing that’s “healthy” from Memorial to Labor Day Weekends! We can’t wait to see what all you come up with! #RockinNRollin #Summer2014 #healthylifestylechallenge

How about a hike!? The kids were 5 weeks and 27 months in this pic! Will tuckered out eventually,, but we away come prepared to lug him around! Here are a few quick tips and an article on the benefits of hiking:

  • Kids can learn about nature while they walk
  • Hiking helps kids learn to focus, concentrate
  • Children will create a lifetime routine of hiking
  • There are long-term mental health benefits to hiking with children.

Tammy York, author of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles shares the benefits of hiking perspective with Cincinnati father of two Jeff Alt, who just published his second book, Get Your Kids Hiking.

  • Fighting digital distractions

The two hiking advocates know they’re fighting upstream against digital technology for their kids’ attention. But they say they’ve seen firsthand the payoff of walking in the woods. “It opens the avenue for kids to teach themselves, to concentrate on one thing,” York says, a skill she believes is diminished by spending too much time listening to music on an iPod or playing video games.”There are so many distractions. Everything is calling for their attention,” she says. “Twenty years from now, that one thing (ability to concentrate) is going to be severely lacking in our society.”Hiking, York says, gives a boy or girl’s body the chance to reset itself and his or her mind to focus.

  • Start family hikes during infancy

Alt says scientific studies have shown that hiking releases body chemicals, such as serotonin and adrenaline, that result in more positive thinking. He recommends parents start taking their children on hikes when they are infants, strapping them to their chests until they reach 15 pounds. That’s about when a child’s neck is strong enough to support his or her head while riding in a backpack. York gave her children tiny “princess” backpacks to hike with. She empowered them by letting them choose their snacks (apple or banana, Wheat Thins or pretzels) and Crayon colors. She packed drawing paper, water in Nalgene bottles and plastic bags for sitting down where it was wet. When kids are little, she says, watch for fatigue on their faces as they hike. Stop and sit down. Let them draw what they want and talk about what they want. “If you go out and preach, preach, preach, they’ll tune you out,” York says.

  • Little ones don’t know they’re learning.

Alt believes parents’ teaching is absorbed by infants, but there’s a certain point to stop doing it. When they say “Look, Daddy, a bird” it’s time to switch to “child directed hiking” in which you allow them to touch, smell and engage with nature on their own, Alt says. To help them, he says, “Take along a magnifying glass and let them look at leaves up close. Bring a bug holder. Tip rocks over to let them see all the pill bugs underneath. “The goal,” Alt says, “is to expose kids to the outdoors and make it a routine so they won’t second-guess it when they get older.” By that he means, second-guess Dad when he says “Kill that iPod, son. It’s time for a hike.”

  • Tips: Ways to engage children along the trail

— Let the child lead within reason. Be mindful of dangerous areas such as cliffs, fast moving rivers, etc.– When your child takes interest in an animal or rock, stop and explore with him or her.– Bring items that kids can use to interact with nature such as a magnifying glass, binoculars, plant and bird identification guides, a camera and a bug catcher.– Use all your senses to explore: Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose and listen, then talk about what you heard or smelled. Touch bark. Make a leaf imprint with paper and pencil.– Let your little adventurer pack a few items of his own; even if it’s not hiking related. This will give him a sense of ownership.

Sources: USA Today & Turkey Creek Trail at Emma Long