Using the Outdoors to Encourage Fitness in Your Child

Using the Outdoors to Encourage Fitness in Your Child

Using the Outdoors to Encourage Fitness in Your Child


Getting in shape outdoors with your significant other or even your dog, is an easy way for ourselves to stay motivated. However, getting your children involved is a whole other story. It’s no secret that the U.S has a problem with child obesity as well eating disorders in even the youngest of children. Any solution there is to help curb this problem from an early age is crucial. Getting kids to experience the outdoors may just be the answer we need to help aid each child’s individual fitness needs:

hiking, fitness, child, children

Be a role model:

If you like to get outside, chances are your child will, too. Teaching by example is one of the first ways to get children to be their own healthy advocates and increase a child’s fitness. Talking to your children about your own experience outdoors will help to get them inspired about doing the same. Letting them see you work on your fitness on a hike or a backpacking trip will surely have a positive influence as well.

Limit use of electronics:

There are too many things keeping children inside these days, and not enough getting them outside. Being a parent means letting your child make their own choices, but also limiting time spent on things bad for his or her overall health. Get your kid to play outside for at least thirty minutes everyday. Even better, take them to a place to hike, climb, or even just navigate through the woods. They won’t even realize that thirty minutes has gone by so fast.

Introduce to the joys of the outdoors:

You don’t need to drag kids up a strenuous mountain hike to get them to love hiking and improve their fitness. It’s okay to gradually ease them into the physical benefits of being outside. Take your kids on a weekend camping trip or outside on hikes and long walks. Drive to a national park in your state to introduce them to nature. If you do it right, kids will eventually start asking you to take them out more, and it will be easier to add a fitness aspect if need be.

child, children, fitness, hiking

Sign up for an adventure:

There are so many outdoor adventures, sports, and activities that can easily spark a child’s interest. Most of these require a pretty hefty workout for at least some of it. Get together and see what your kid is interested in trying, and sign up for a new activity together. It’s a great opportunity to encourage your child’s fitness, without having to push it on them. Try rock-climbing, mountain-climbing, snowshoeing, trail-running; anything!

Plan a backpacking vacation:

Who needs Disney when you have amazing national parks, beautiful hiking trails, scenic mountains, and the chance to see some of the country’s coolest trees or strangest animals? If you’re able to take a vacation (one that will probably be much more affordable), spend time exploring America’s backyard, while watching your kid move more than ever. At the end of the summer, you might be surprised by the results.

Incorporate and monitor workouts:

If your child is a little older, then teach him or her to incorporate workouts into their hikes, or do it with them. Though hiking is a great workout in itself, it doesn’t hurt to add some exercises to the routine. Anything from long walks, to steep mountain hikes, to even some yoga, can really help your child’s fitness. Additionally, having kids choose a cool fitness monitor or new workout gear for the trail will definitely get them more excited about improving their fitness habits. Get matching Fitbits and see who is doing more!


Let them learn the purpose of hiking:

Hiking is a challenge no matter what. Encouraging a child’s fitness by letting them learn the purpose of hiking will not only aid their health, but also help teach them a valuable lesson. Choose a trail that you know will be meaningful because of what will be waiting at the end of the hike (a great view, cool animals, an awesome sense of achievement), and watch the results unfold.

Challenge them to a fitness competition:

Most kids are competitive, and using a competition to improve your child’s fitness outdoors is an awesome idea. Who can run the fastest? Who can go the longest without complaining? Who can do the most push-ups after running up a hill? If you’re both are trying to lose weight, you can make that a competition in itself.

hiking, child, children, fitness

Push healthy eating habits on and off the trail:

Hiking can be an amazing way to implement healthy eating habits to help your child’s fitness. Because you need to plan your meals before heading out on a trip, it lets us be more mindful of what we are putting into our bodies. Demonstrating this process will help children learn the importance of eating well. It can also be fun-just cooking while on the trail. Take these ideas back home, and watch your child’s fitness get better and better.

It doesn’t require forcing a diet upon your child or enrolling them in a rigorous training program to get them to improve their fitness. Instead, show them the wonders of the outdoors and see how much it truly helps. 

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.