Just about everyone can relate to the feeling of being hurried and stressed with little time to connect with their family. The days go by so quickly and when our heads hit the pillow at night we may feel guilty or disappointed that we missed the chance once again to enjoy time with one another. Our jobs can be sedentary or lonely, our schedules congested and time with our loved ones just too short.
Setting aside a little time for a walk in the evening after dinner can be a great way to wrap up the day with our family around us. The health benefits of being active can be amplified by bringing your family along with you as a way to connect. Not only will you be bettering your health by taking steps together, you’ll also strengthen your family relationships.
Here are a few great reasons to Take a Walk with Your Family Tonight:
1.) Create New Memories
Think back to your own childhood at some of the fondest memories. I’ll bet at least a few are of doing a simple activity with a loved one. You may find cool sticks or interesting stones you’ll pick up along the way that you can then have a space in your garden to keep them for the memories. Listen to the sound of the leaves blowing, the familiar smell of your neighbor’s flower bushes or the visual of holding hands while you walk across the street. Give your family the memory of family walks that they can look back at fondly as ways that they were able to connect and enjoy.
2.) Change of Scenery
Get out of the house and into the open air where everyone is free to move about. Life inside of 4 walls can build up stress and tension, when you’re outside it has no where to go but away from you. Walks can open up conversations that may not have occurred within the home because you didn’t have the space for it. When walking, thoughts flow more freely and talking naturally occurs. Give it a try.
3.) Nature as Medicine
Decreasing stress and increasing mood is waiting for you as you step just outside your door. Sunlight provides your body with much needed vitamin D. Walking stimulates production of endorphins and serotonin that relieve depression and improve moods. Fresh air provides your body with ample oxygen that promotes healing and mental clarity.
4.) Reconnect with Your Spouse and Kids.
At the end of a long and tiring day, a walk will help you to unwind both physically and mentally. This will allow you to connect more easily with your spouse and children. Talk about your day, make a game of looking for the color blue or spotting the first new flowers of spring just beginning to sprout up. Hold hands with your loved one while you watch your kids run or bike just ahead of you and be grateful for the family that you have created together.
5.) Model and Establish Positive Habits
Building in time for daily walks for you and your family will help pull you away from electronics and social media (sometimes kicking and screaming for some in your family!) Replacing unhealthy activities (excessive television/computer, boredom eating, lying around) with this healthy habit of walking can help model to your children how to balance life that includes movement and connection. Your kids will love being able to skip, bike or run down the sidewalk or path that they won’t even miss their Ipods or video games while they’re outside. Every minute spent outside with your family is a minute when you’re not indulging in unhealthy habits.
So go- take a walk with your family and reconnect with each other and with nature. Don’t over-think it by trying to add in weight-loss goals or specific topics to discuss. Just walk with the ones you love and be in the present with them. You’ll find yourself feeling happier, less stressed and more connected with them with each step you take together.
I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.
Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT