Walk the Walk with Family Trails

Next time you’re thinking about what to do on the weekend, consider taking the family out on the trails. Family trails in your local or state parks are an ideal way to get fit together and get some fresh air and nature while you’re at it.

Healthy Fitness for People at All Levels

Walking is a very effective way for people of all ages and all fitness levels to get healthy exercise, because it strengthens the heart and lungs and burns calories. In addition, walking is good for your bones, improves your circulation, can help tone muscles and increase your metabolism. Walking also improves the body’s cardiovascular system. In fact, many medical experts agree that regular walking is better for the body than running because it puts less stress on the body.

Trails are for Everyone

Family trails are suitable for people of all ages – from toddlers to grandparents. Many trails designated for family hikes are less strenuous, with fewer hills, and a smoother path cleared of rocks, roots or other obstacles. Some are even paved in boardwalk or have stairs or bridges that aren’t available on other trails. They may be stroller friendly and pet friendly as well. Check at the informational booth, kiosk or welcome center for maps and signposts to find family-friendly trails. You can find additional hiking information on sites like trails.com, Americanhiking.org, or backpacker.com.

Explore Nature

Family trails are a way for families to get out of the house and explore nature and learn about your area. Whether you’re walking through a colorful foliage tour or hiking through the crisp white snow, enjoying spring flowers, or seeking a bit of forest shade in the summer, trail walking can be done year round.

See Wildlife

Family trails are a great opportunity to witness area wildlife first hand. Whether you’re interested in bird watching, butterflies, deer or on a hunt for the infamous jack-a-lope, there are lots of opportunities to see wildlife once you’re on the trail. Be sure to check signs for potential dangerous animals and what to do in case you meet up with one. In some trails, you might be encouraged to bring a bear bell, pepper spray or walking sticks to deter critters.

Get Fit and Work Up to More Strenuous Trails

Once you and your family have gotten into the swing of trail walking, you can work your way up to more strenuous trails. Whether they involve a gradually steepening incline, longer walks, or more off-road oriented hikes, you’ll be rewarded with the ability to explore new territory and the opportunity to increase your fitness levels.

Take to the Roads

Do you feel like you’ve explored all of the trails and hikes and parks in your area? Consider branching out. Your local hikes can help you and your family work up to a trip to Mammoth Cave, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the redwood forests of California, the Appalachian trail or volcano tours of Hawaii. Feel like going further? Consider the centuries old pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago from the Pyrenees of France across northern Spain and ending in Santiago de Compostela. Your family will have a trip to remember and if they make the whole trek, they’ll receive a special certificate at the end of the line.

Whether you’re trekking through the woods of your backyard or across the Appalachian trail, a family walk will do your family good. It’s good exercise, fresh air and time exposed to nature. Consider taking a family walk with your loved ones – you’ll have happy trails together.

 

Beat the Winter Blues with Family-Friendly Indoor Fitness Activities

Photo credit: Matheusreich (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

During those freezing cold winter months when you aren’t able to get outside and it’s hard to muster up the motivation to get out and hit the gym, it can seem nearly impossible to get any exercise in. Activity levels fall to one step above couch potato and we often wonder where the excess weight is coming from. However, not all is lost. You do still have a chance to maintain some form of an exercise routine even when the snow is falling and temps are ridiculously low.

Get moving with video games – this is not a suggestion to sit on the couch and stare at the television all day with a controller in your hand. Systems such as the Wii offer games where you can be up and moving while you are playing. Bowling, tennis, Wii Fit, and Wii Sports are a few games that will not only get your whole family laughing, but also keep everyone active while the snow blows outside.

Create an indoor obstacle course – use your furniture and everyday items around the house to create a fun, unique obstacle course that you all can enjoy. Make it an event the whole family gets involved in, and time how long it takes each person to complete it. The winner gets a prize or gets to choose how the next course will be set up.   Use your imagination and be as creative as you want.

Crank up the music – This may be the one and only time that you don’t yell at the kids to turn the music down. Blast some tunes as loud as you want and make room for a dance floor in the living room. Your whole family will enjoy showing off their moves and will get a workout while they are at it. Step it up a level and have each person create their own unique dance that they perform in front of the whole family.

Indoor bowling competition – turn a hallway into a bowling alley with a few simple steps. Empty soda or water bottles make great pins, and any ball will do. Keep score and see who is the bowling champion. This type of bowling is cheaper AND you don’t have to wear those awful bowling shoes while you play.

Scavenger hunt craziness – This is a perfect indoor activity to keep the kids busy, and it’s a great way to be creative and keep the imaginative juices flowing. Hide a variety of items all through the house and leave clues that the kids have to follow to find them. Whoever finds all items gets to choose a prize or decide what the family will watch on television that night.

Just because it’s cold and nasty outside doesn’t mean you have to give up all forms of exercise. There are many creative ways to stay active indoors and make memorable moments with your family as well. It’s one way to get your family looking forward to those cold, winter days rather than dreading them.