In this week’s edition of the Everyday Family Rituals series, I’m going to dole out more sage advice that you won’t believe you ever lived without. I’m just out here changing lives. Actually, we’re going to talk about something super basic that almost any family can do every day to improve their lives: taking a walk together.
Depending on your particular kid, you might not have a lot of time before they’re too cool to take a walk or they get a job and aren’t home to take a stroll. Taking advantage of the time you have before it slips by is possibly the most badass thing you can do.
Take a Walk Together
We try to take a walk just about every day—weather permitting. We’ll head out the door, grab the stroller, and start heading to a park in our neighborhood. We make a big loop, all the while talking, sharing news, and cracking jokes. Even if one of us is annoyed when the walk starts, by the time it’s over, everyone is usually in a good mood.
The Benefits of Daily Walking
The benefits of taking a daily walk are pretty crazy for an individual. They include:
- Better mood: Research shows that regular walking can reduce anger and hostility (who can’t use a little less anger and hostility?)
- Burn calories: Walking can increase your calorie deficit and help you maintain a healthy weight
- Lower blood pressure: Some research indicates that walkers can lower their systolic blood pressure by .45 points for every 1,000 daily steps they take
- Reduce the risk of chronic diseases: Want to limit your chances of developing obesity, sleep apnea, depression, diabetes, and other chronic diseases? Start walking.
- Increase in brainpower: One of my favorite benefits is the mental boost I get from taking a walk, but studies show that the benefit is prolonged—it’s not just a temporary, immediate boost
- Aids in digestion: Movement stimulates the stomach and intestines and can help move through more rapidly.
There are a lot more benefits, but let’s look at the impact these benefits might have on a family:
- Who doesn’t want their family to experience less anger and hostility? Imagine your kids fighting with each other less.. What a dream!
- Helping children maintain a healthy body weight allows them to build and maintain confidence, perform better in school and sports, and just generally be happier.
- Your kids raise your blood pressure, don’t lie. Let them help you reduce it by taking them on walks.
- You’d do anything to help your children avoid a chronic disease. Walking can help.
- You can help your children unlock their potential brain power by taking them out for a walk—maybe they’ll get a scholarship and save you some money.
- Getting a walk in after dinner helps everyone continue the conversations they were having at the table while also digesting their food more efficiently.
The Real Reasons Why You Should Be Walking Each Day
All the other benefits aside, walking is a great opportunity for family bonding. You’re not working, watching TV, or staring at your phone (neither are your kids). You’re entirely present for them and your spouse. You’ll be able to have real conversations that you can’t have when you’re distracted by devices and modern technology.
It’s also a great time to check in with each other. My wife and I often use it to workshop ideas for work or some of the organizations we’re part of. Since we’re in the fresh air and getting some sun in our eyes, we’re able to work through things and think about them from a fresh perspective.
If you’re looking for new Everyday Family Rituals, think about adding walking into your daily routine. It’s a great way to get exercise, clear your mind, and spend some time with your family—attention undivided.