As a kid, I remember visits to my grandparents meant time spent with cousins. Or rather, for me being among the younger of the cousins, time being told to stop tagging along with the older cousins as they walked down the dirt farm roads on my grandparents’ farm. I longed to be part of their conversations as they walked.
Is there really such a thing as quality time with a picture-perfect, happy bonding family, and if so, how do you tap into this amazing concept for healthy relationships with each other? The Bible talks about using every opportunity to teach children about God, and walking together is certainly among the ways to do this.
You shall teach them to your children talking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way… —Deuteronomy 11:19
Aside from the opportunity for Bible instruction and the obvious bonding time a family spends while walking together, what kind of health and fitness aspects and best practices does it bring to the family?
Heather Borgren has a BS in Physical Education from Baker University and is a PE teacher in Kansas. She says that not only is “unstructured time outside” an opportunity for kids to exercise, but it also allows quality family time and it’s a free activity everyone can do together.
Valerie Gibson, a fitness class instructor and personal trainer says walking together as a family has other, less obvious positive health effects, too. “It improves mood and sleep, which helps stress and patience levels, which in turn helps the family environment. Walking together is a great way for families to bond. We often don’t find time to do focused things as a family, and I believe working out is one of the best.”
And if one or two members of the family are struggling to get fit, taking walks and working out as a family can really help drive motivation to get moving. “You are much more likely to fail a long term goal when doing it yourself,” says Gibson. “Plus family members tend to do it ‘for each other,’ even what they don’t feel like it because they want their family members to succeed.”
But Borgren and Gibson both agree the benefits of taking walks together as a family go beyond physical health. “If the walk is free of electronic distractions, it is quality time spent together,” says Borgren. “It also helps with communication and building a stronger family bond that way,” says Gibson. “Often when families walk together they have the time to talk more than they do at home. This builds a stronger bond and makes the exercise experience more positive as well.
And the biggest benefit? “The biggest benefit is happiness!” says Gibson. “I think it adds to happiness and that is a big deal!”
What Do You Think?
Now, it’s your turn to chime in on the idea of walking together as a family. Share your own creative steps your family has taken toward sharing successful time together on family walks.