Take your family walks to the next level.
Walking, biking or wheeling to get to places as a family are great examples of “active transportation”, using your own human-power to move from one place to another. And while we might not exactly be “actively commuting” as much as we used to, getting your steps in through walking, biking or wheeling can be a great way to stay active and healthy while discovering your surroundings in a much more accessible way than in a motor vehicle.
Plus, when walking at a good clip, it’s an amazing way to sneak in some active time toward the 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity adults need each week and the 60 minutes per day that kids need.
Actively commuting with kids, however, can pose some challenges, especially when little feet start to drag and frustration mounts. Don’t default to throwing everyone into the car to avoid a mid-walk melt-down, instead turn your walk into an opportunity to play and have some fun!
What might be a routine trek to the store or routine trip out to get in some steps can become a daily way to play, explore and enjoy each other’s company. Here are some sure-fire ways to - safely - get your junior commuters jazzed up the next time you hit the pavement:
Four games for talking, thinking & interacting
- I-Spy: A bona fide classic, I-Spy has the person who is “it” choose an object within sight of all the walkers and says, “I spy, with my little eye, something that …” and give a clue, colour, shape, texture or use, for what the object might be. Whoever guesses the object is “it” next.
- When I Go on Holiday: The first person says, “When I go on holiday, I am going to pack a …” and states any object that starts with the letter A. The second person repeats the phrase and the first object, adding a new object that starts with the letter “B”. Each player must repeat the whole list, adding to it on each turn, until somebody is unable to recite the contents of the alphabetical packing list.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors: Pair up in twos to play this game found all over the world. On the count of one, two, three, go, each of the players throws a hand in one of the following symbols: a rock (closed fist), paper (flat, open hand), or scissors (peace sign). Paper always beats rock – it can wrap around the rock, rock always beats scissors – it can smash the scissors, and scissors beats paper – for obvious reasons! Keep score as you go.
- What Am I?: This can be played with lots of walkers. The group can choose a category like animals, countries, food or famous people. The person who is “it” thinks of something from the category and give two or three difficult clues as to the identity of the thing they are thinking of. Guessers get to ask yes or no questions before guessing the identity of the object and are eliminated if they guess wrong.
Four games to get moving while walking
- Follow the Leader: Whoever is “it” gets to decide how everyone will walk – like a monkey, a kangaroo or a bear, and where the group walks – across rocks, along low retaining walls or other low to the ground structures.
- Catch or Kick: Take a ball with you while you walk and toss it from one walker to another without dropping it. If walking along paths and trails with enough space to kick the ball ahead and have the next person chase it and kick it further.
- Scavenger Hunt: Give kids a list of five to 10 objects that might be found along the walking route. Searching for squirrels, oak leaves, pine needles or a piece of quartz rock keeps kids too busy to gripe, “Are we there yet?”
- Race: One person picks a landmark within view ahead such as a bush, tree, stop sign or building. The object cannot be across a road. Have everyone race to the object, and the winner gets to choose the next destination.
Walking, running or wheeling are fundamental ways to get our kids moving more. By consciously electing to move around as a family on foot, we are setting an example for our kids to follow, setting them up to become adults who naturally choose physical activity as a way of life – even if it's one step at a time!
Get moving & stay in-the-know
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While it is important to be physically active every day, all Canadians should follow their respective public health authority recommendations. The above is considered, to the best of ParticipACTION’s knowledge at the time of publication, to align with Canadian public health recommendations. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.
Posted wtih permission from ParticipACTION. Read more of their blogs here.