It sounds too simple to be true, but taking a brisk, daily walk, even for 15 minutes, can change your life. Doing so will jumpstart your new years exercise plan and speed up your metabolism. At under a half hour a day, it’s easy to fit into your routine and doesn’t require a gym membership or a personal trainer. But if you need more convincing, here are 10 reasons how walking can even make you a better parent.
1) It’ll get you in touch with nature
It’s kind of cute when my toddler grabs my cell and tromps around babbling as if she were in a real conversation, but her fascination with technology is also mildly freaky. If you’re worried your kid might be over-stimulated by electronics, step outside. There are many more interesting things to be seen while on a walk around your neighborhood, no matter where you live, than on a cell phone or computer. Besides, I’d much rather her marvel at real birds than Angry Birds any day.
2) It keeps you healthy
Yes, chasing kids around all day is exhausting, but just because you’re tired at days end doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting the recommended amount of exercise to stay healthy. A daily walk is the perfect go-to workout for parents who can’t always get away for a half hour, and it will actually increase your energy. The American Heart Association, which recently began the Start! Walking campaign, says that a 30-minute walk each day will help you to maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and even make you live longer.
3) It relieves stress
Whether you are home with the kids or in an office for most of the day, even a short walk, 5-10 minutes, can help you to feel more relaxed and focused. If you wake up feeling super anxious about what the day is going to bring, or how you are going to handle everything that’s on your plate, take a relaxing stroll. It may help you to think more clearly, as will stepping outside for some fresh air and a quick break. Hey, smokers do it all the time, so don’t feel like you aren’t allowed to take a few minutes here and there. It may also help to promote creativity, so you’ll do better at home, or at work.
4) It’s a good way to connect
The after dinner walk is one of my favorite times to chill out and actually get to talk to my husband instead of just falling asleep on him. (It’s also a good time to fill him in on the cuteness and the terror he missed that day). When our daughter was an infant, she would fall asleep as we pushed her. Now, she chats to us from her stroller, but its still a good way to settle her down for the night. Walking after a meal improves digestion, too, whereas lying on the couch in a coma-like state probably does not.
5) It’s a good time-killer
Maybe it’s just postpartum hormones (they’re still around after 19 months, right?), but sometimes after playing games, reading the same book 17 times and cleaning up nine bazillion messes, the late afternoon starts to creep slowly by (until 5:30 when my husband walks in and get cussed out almost immediately). Best way to kill 30 minutes and prevent obscenities: stroll, stroll, stroll. Having something to do on those long afternoons is crucial, and a week (or a day!) without a parental meltdown will make you feel like a huge parenting success.
6) It can provide much-needed quiet time
If there is one thing that motivates me to get the stroller moving day after day, it’s the quiet time. Toddlers are completely insane. I love mine, but she rarely stops talking long enough for her mother to finish a thought (let alone write this article). But while being pushed in the stroller, she’s usually fairly quiet and watches the world around her. These moments when I can simply let my mind wander are epic. Maybe it won’t last an entire 30 minutes, but even just a few can feel like a mental massage.
7) It sets a positive example
There are few greater gifts we can give our children than to teach them the importance of being active. A daily walk might seem simple, and it is, but making this a habit will ingrain in them the power of exercise. Doing so will help you and your kids live active lives instead of sedentary ones, so lead by example and improve your life while you do. Raising active children lowers their risk (and yours) for obesity and a variety of health problems, as well.
8) It’ll keep the mess to a minimum
Hear me out on this one: Keeping a kid inside all day is kind of like caging a wild beast. On rainy, snowy, or sick days, the inside of my house starts to look like it was burglarized, repeatedly. So now we all own great rain and snow gear. The more time we spend outdoors, the cleaner we keep our homes by default. Of course convincing your kids to go outside for 30 minutes in crappy weather can be a challenge, so just make sure you give it a fun angle (ie: we’re going to search for the best puddles in the neighborhood!).
9) It’ll keep you familiar with the neighborhood
I live smack dab in the middle of the country, so when I take walks with my family, its mostly around cows and pigs, which is awesome in its own way. But for those of you who live slightly closer to civilization, you have the opportunity to explore an actual community, filled with people to meet and things to do. The world looks pretty different once you have kids and you might be surprised at what’s out there. Taking a walk is a great way to explore your town, neighborhood, or in my case, pasture.
10) It’s an excuse not to use the car seat
On top of all of the not-so-obvious reasons to take a walk, it is still a great way to get somewhere, too! Honestly, I know they are completely necessary, but I am so over car-seats I could scream. Maybe its partially because the first one we had permanently damaged my wrist from taking it in and out of the car several times a day, or maybe because my daughter always seems to find some week-old snack under all the straps and buckles. If you’re sick and tired of getting kids in and out of the car then just walk, at least to the places that are close enough to do so. It’ll also save you money on gas!