Get your family involved with walking and you’ll not just have a fun activity to connect with loved ones, but you’ll also ensure that your entire family gets the benefits of walking and an active lifestyle.
Work, school, sports, homework, dinner… life is probably busy in your family. It can be difficult to hit your expert-recommended daily activity goals while still spending time with family. By scheduling active family activities (like walking), you’ll be able to get active together, have fun, and keep your loved ones healthy.
Here are 4 ways walking can benefit from your entire family, from kids to adults to seniors!
1. Prevent Disease
Walking is a great way to reduce health risks, both for you and your kids (or grandkids). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for adults every week. Brisk walking counts as a moderate-intensity exercise to get your 150 minutes in. Add another 150 minutes (300 minutes total) for even more health benefits. The CDC also recommends 60 minutes of physical activity every day for children and adolescents. Following these CDC guidelines can prevent chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Keeping up with your kids (getting MORE than 300 minutes of walking per week) can give you some great health benefits.
Moderate exercise can help reduce the risk of many health problems such as erectile dysfunction, obesity, osteoarthritis, depression, and osteoporotic fractures.
Although risks are lowered most when walking for longer periods of time, reports suggest that walking for as little as 30 minutes per day can lower your likelihood of suffering from the health problems and diseases mentioned above.
2. Build Healthy Bones
Weight-bearing activities like walking can help grow new bone tissue, which makes your bones stronger. Walking also engages muscles like your glutes and hamstrings that are usually inactive during sedentary activities like sitting at a desk. As these muscles grow, they stimulate your bones to become stronger as well.
Exercise is especially important for children and teens because they gain most of their bone mass right before and during puberty. Ensuring that their bones and muscles are healthy when they’re young will help them prevent bone loss later.
Bone mass usually peaks during the third decade of life, so it’s important for older men and women to exercise in order to prevent bone loss. In addition to making bones stronger, walking also improves muscle strength, coordination, and balance. This helps to avoid fall-related fractures.
Walking is also a low-impact activity and an easy exercise that most older people can perform safely. Try spending some quality time with your parents or grandparents by taking a nice, relaxing walk!
3. Improve Mental Health
Walking is good for your mental well-being too. It can help you sleep better, improve your mood, and lowers your risk of depression. In people who are depressed, walking tends to help them recover faster than people who do not walk. Walking also helps improve self-esteem and confidence, as well as reducing stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
In older people, walking helps improve cognition, which reduces the risk of cognitive decline and illnesses like dementia.
Walking can also help to clear your thoughts since it forces you to slow down and clear your mind. Walking meditation helps promote mindfulness, which reduces stress. If you’re looking to reduce stress, try walking meditation as a new habit!
After a full day at work or school, your attention is fatigued and you may have a hard time interacting with loved ones. A new study has found that walks in nature help to restore attention and allow you to better pick up on social cues. The study found that a walk in nature actually increased positive interactions amongst the families that participated.
Walking with others can help to motivate you to keep walking. The friendly company keeps you from getting bored and distracts you from the walk itself. Talking, sharing, and learning with your family helps to strengthen your bond with each other. Studies have even shown that people who are closer to their families tend to live longer. Getting a family member into walking gives you a fun activity to do together, helps them get healthier, and motivates you to walk more. Everyone wins!
It’s also great for kids to spend time away from phones, computers and other devices and get out and play in the real world. Modeling an active lifestyle is a great way to encourage your kids or grandkids to get active as well. Kids can also be a great motivator to get more active, as you’ll need to build up the endurance to keep up with them as they’re out playing.
If your schedule is already full, it might seem hard to incorporate more physical activity and quality time with your family. It doesn’t have to be hard, however, if you simply look for things that you and your family can do together. Walking is a great way to get healthier and connect as a family!