As an Arizona native, I never realized how blessed I was to have beautiful mountains around me every single day. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I explored hiking, and I’ve been hooked ever since. While hiking with my husband is my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors, we’ve recently begun including my six-year-old daughter in the adventures, and it’s been amazing.
I get a lot of questionable looks while hiking with my child, so I compiled my top five benefits to hiking with kids. I hope they help convince you to take a trip to your nearest summit if you don’t already do so.
A fun way to exercise
According to Child Mind Institute, kids are supposed to get at least 60 minutes of exercise in per day. With the increased popularity of technology, it seems like getting those 60 minutes is harder than ever. Finding creative ways to exercise is a game changer, and hiking is definitely on the top of my list. The curvy trails, bumpy boulders, and beautiful views keep you on your toes and make for an amazing adventure.
Quiet moments for conversations
When was the last time you had some quiet time to have a genuine conversation with a loved one? If you’re like me, you’re surrounded by constant noise. Whether listening to the TV, radio, podcast, or outside conversations, it’s nearly impossible to get a conversation in. Hiking allows me to open up my brain for more creative thinking, as well as allowing for intimate conversations.
Learn environmental responsibility
Hiking is the perfect opportunity to teach children about our responsibility as residents of Earth. Picking up after ourselves is no longer enough. Sometimes, we must bite our tongue, suck it up, and clean up after others as well. Since I started hiking with my family, we make it a habit to take doggy bags to pick up trash as we hike. This is a great way to teach children (and other hikers) that in order to enjoy nature, we must take care of it.
Like any sport, hiking has its challenges. Kids complain but there’s nothing a little bit of motivation can’t fix. Like any goal, keeping your eye on the prize (in this case, the summit) is crucial. My daughter loves hiking Thunderbird Mountain because every summit has an American flag at the top. It’s her way of staying motivated, inspired, and excited.
Explore the outdoors
We’re creatures of habit, and it’s important to create healthy habits early on, especially with children. Some of my favorite memories as a child we’re weekends at the park, and now, my daughter gets to experience nature in an even greater way. There are countless benefits to exposing children to nature. One of my favorites is the fact that it promotes creativity and imagination.