One of the most beautiful things you can do as a family is to take time to bond. And where better to do that than outside in the fresh air?

A 2017 study found that parent/child bonds improve significantly from spending time together in nature. This means that simply by going for a walk together as family, you could potentially strengthen your relationships.

What’s more, walking has been shown to make the brain more sensitive to serotonin and norepinephrine. These are hormones that can ease the feeling of depression. Walking, like all exercise, can also trigger the release of endorphins or “happy hormones”. An abundance of happy hormones will boost the immune system, hopefully leading to an improvement in your family’s health.

Walking is also particularly beneficial for the emotional well-being of children. It is said to lead to:

Improved mental health
Better sleep patterns
Reduced risk of disease

And then, of course, there are the fitness benefits. Taking a walk with younger family members means modelling healthy exercise habits. Children ideally need 60 minutes or more of moderate exercise every day, according to the NHS. To see the adults in their life engage in physical activity can inspire them to get moving.

These are all excellent reasons to build a regular family walk into your week and/or weekend. But we get it: starting something new and changing your family routine can seem like quite the challenge. That’s why we have some simple tips to help you get started!

1. Start small

You can begin with a 10-minute walk and build up to longer distances. Gauge the abilities of all family members and make it accessible for everyone. It doesn’t need to be a big hike in the hills straight away. Why not start with a simple walk to a nearby cafe, then stop for breakfast or lunch?

Choosing a destination can be very helpful as it establishes an end goal or a “finish line” each time.

2. Embrace technology

As beneficial and rewarding as it can be to go on a phone-free walk, the idea may not
always received well by all the family!

Make a compromise: alternate one mindful walk with no technology (map apps excepted) with one tech-heavy walk filled with taking photos and videos together, FaceTiming family members that can’t join, and playing walk-friendly phone games such as Pokémon GO together as a team.

3. Play games

You’ve heard of car games – who’s to say they can’t be played while walking? Playing games like I Spy or telling jokes and sharing stories can help to keep up morale, keep everyone entertained and add another element of bonding with one another.

Bring a ball for an impromptu football or volleyball game if you see a suitable spot.

It can also be incredibly rewarding to take a bag (and gloves) with you to collect any rubbish you see on the street or in nature. You can even make a game of who can collect the most.

Walking as a family should feel rewarding, productive, fun, and liberating. Take it step by step and work together as a team.

Once you’ve got into the swing of things with regular walks, try out our inspiring family walking challenge.

Words by Carlie Barlow