10 Tips for Walking for Exercise with Young Children

by Bonnie Way

After my third daughter was born, I knew I wanted to get myself fit again.  The problem was how.  I couldn’t afford childminding for three children so I could go swimming.  I couldn’t take all of them on the bike with me.  That left walking for exercise, since I could use strollers and baby carriers and kids’ bikes to get them out with me.

Here are a few tips I’ve used to get a daily walk with three young children in tow.
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  1. Plan a destination.  My girls were more excited about going for a walk if I told them we were going to a park or duck pond or local public garden or cafe.  And, of course, once we’d gotten there, we had to walk home again for lunch or their favourite TV show or something else.
     
  2. Take sidewalk chalk.  Children can run ahead and draw pictures while you walk.  My girls like drawing arrows while we walk and then following the arrows back home again later.
     
  3. Take bubbles.  The children can blow bubbles while they walk and then chase the bubbles.  Or you can blow bubbles for them.
     
  4. Take a map. If your toddler is a fan of Dora the Explorer like mine, have him or her pretend to be an explorer.  Make a little map of your neighborhood or where you walk and have your toddler follow the map.
     
  5. Take snacks. Plan a mini “picnic” for a point halfway along the walk (see #1).Taking water is a must for a hot day (for both of you).  And if children get tired, snacks can help perk them up.
     
  6. Have a scavenger hunt.  Make a list of things you might find on your walk, such as a ladybug, a leaf, a telephone pole, a fire hydrant, etc.  A pre-reading child can circle pictures on a page while a child learning to read could check off simple words in a list.
     
  7. Do what your children enjoy.  My five-year-old just started riding her two-wheeler bike, so she is much happier about going for walks when she gets to ride her bike.  My three-year-old loves to run.  Then all I have to do is put the baby in the stroller and keep up with the girls.
     
  8. Keep moving.  If your child needs a break (to draw chalk pictures or play at a park or have a snack), keep walking circles around them or run stairs or do jumping jacks.
     
  9. Use strollers and baby carriers.  I have three different strollers, a sling and an Ergo carrier.  Which one I take depends on whether the baby is awake or asleep (or falling asleep) and where we are going.  Sometimes I put the baby in the double stroller and let the girls take turns riding with her.  Sometimes I put the baby in the sling and let one of the girls ride the stroller.  Sometimes I just take the Ergo carrier so we can go on a walk that isn’t stroller-friendly but is more fun for the girls.  Try different methods to see what works best for your children.
     
  10. Make it a habit. The first day I suggested taking a walk, my girls asked, “What? Where?” By the third day, when I said we were taking a walk, they just went and put their shoes on. If you get into a routine, they will help you keep it.  Just be careful about what “habits” you form during the walk (or they’ll always expect that cookie when they get home!).

With a little bit of creativity, walking for exercise with children can be not only fun but also exercise.  My girls now enjoy getting out as much as I do, and I’ve found that we’re all much happier when we’ve had a bit of fresh air and exercise.

 

Written by Bonnie Way, a current summer intern at 5 Minutes For Mom, blogger, and mom of three girls ages 5, 3 and newborn.



Email Author    |    Website About Bonnie Way

Bonnie Way is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, mom and wife. She has three daughters, ages five, three, and newborn, who take her to parks and read books with her and help fold laundry. When she's not hanging out with them or working on her computer, she enjoys rock climbing, scrapbooking and reading.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Becca June 23, 2013 at 11:02 pm

These are awesome tips! I love reading your blog!

My family often goes for walks together around our farm. Unfortunately, with these walks being in the boonies sometimes we get surprised! I wrote a post about how one of our walks ended in surprise here http://southernmessmomo .blogspot.com/2013/06/difference-in-knowing-and-knowing.html#more

We do go into town to walk sometimes. However, my husband and I are trying to train for a 5k right now so we try to get a babysitter for those times. Although, if we can get a baby sitter for the youngest the oldest can ride her bike and she makes us run at quite a demanding pace! :)

Again, thanks for the amazing post! Can’t wait to read more!
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2 Bonnie Way June 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

My in-laws have a quarter section and we enjoy walking there too, but it’s definitely different than walking around the city!!! I’d recommend carriers rather than strollers there. And yes, when my oldest gets going on her bike, I have to keep a good pace to catch her – it’s great motivation to go! :)
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3 Ned June 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm

walking is one of the best ways to keep fit.. even more so when you are trying to shed that post pregnancy weight! those are some great tips.. love the one about the bubbles and sidewalk chalk.
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4 Bonnie Way June 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I’ve really enjoyed it and the girls do (most days) too! :)
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5 @PamelaMKramer - A Renaissance Woman June 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm

These are great ideas. I like the bubble, side walk chalk, scavenger hunt and snacks! Always snacks, it’s in the rule book. lol
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6 Annette {This Simple Mom} June 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I walk in my neighborhood…so some of the ideas won’t work, but others will. Thanks!
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7 ronnie June 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm

These are all great tips! I love each of them.
I think my favorite is the sidewalk chalk and writing things that you can follow on the way home.
Fantastic – thanks!!
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8 Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids June 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Great post! I love going on walks with my kids and for the second year have even taken the stroller on 5Ks with me. Great ideas for when my kids get a little older.
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9 Earlene Blosser July 11, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Another post with great tips Bonnie. I had to write some down as there are some that I did not know before. For me was best the one saying to bring the bubbles. This always makes my little nephew to run a lot and so he is making healthy exercises.
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10 Christine Derrel July 17, 2013 at 1:14 am

According to my doctor, walking is one of the best exercises you can do, it is healthy and you will lose weight!!!
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11 Andrea August 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Love this article – I did the same thing after I had my 2nd son (he’ll be 1 this Wednesday!) and it was the best thing I ever did. Not only did I benefit from the exercise, but both of my boys enjoyed the daily walks. And, walking helps melt those unwanted pounds off too!

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12 Venus January 23, 2014 at 7:15 am

My sister and regulations possess a quarter section so we enjoy walking in the room, but it’s certainly diverse from travelling the town!!! I’d recommend service providers instead of baby strollers there. Company, when my earliest will get happening her bike, I must have a good pace to trap her – it’s great motivation to visit!

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13 bua an hoan hao June 9, 2014 at 3:14 am

Great! Thanks for sharing.
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