Spring is officially here. The snow has melted. The flowers are blooming. The birds are chirping and the squirrels are running wild. You can definitely see the change of seasons in the mountains. This is one of my favorite times of the year.
After being cooped up in the house all winter trying to stay warm, we can walk outside the door and soak up the sunshine. It's a time to become active again. We can go for walks without having to bundle up. The parks come to life again. It's a great time.
It's one of my goals to be much more active this Spring and Summer, and it's so much easier to stick to that goal if I can involve girls. Since we live in the middle of a National Forest with an abundance of hiking trails, I am hoping to take a lot of hikes this year now that Kaylee is older.
There are so many reasons why hiking is a good family activity. Here are 6 of my favorite reasons.
Exercise as a Family
We don't get nearly as much exercise as we should, and over the last month, I have been working to change that. I just started a 108-day yoga challenge a few days ago. The girls have been practicing with me, but I want to add outdoor exercise to the regimen as well. We signed the girls up for tee-ball (I'm coaching!), but going for a hike is something we can all do to become more active as a family.
Enjoy Fresh Air
This is particularly true where we live. At 7,000 feet altitude, we're above the smog line, so we get lots of fresh air just by going outside. Since indoor air is typically 5x more toxic than outdoor air, it's especially important to get outside after a long winter indoors!
Get a Chance to Talk
Today, it's so easy to get sucked into the hustle and bustle, moving from one task to the next, without slowing down to really talk and connect with your family members. When you get away from the house and away from the technology, it's so much easier to connect without distraction. There is nothing to do, but enjoy each other's company.
Stay Connected to Nature
So many people have lost their connection to nature. A lot of kids think food comes from a truck that delivers it to the grocery store. They think it comes from a box, bag or can rather than being grown from the Earth. Processed food has become too prominent in our children's lives. It's important to keep our kids connected to nature any way we can so it's not lost on future generations. Being in the middle of nature on a hike is a great way to expose them to nature in a fun way.
Learn About Local Plants & Animals
You can also turn a hike into an educational activity by studying local plants and animals. We have a Discovery Center here where we can take the girls to learn about these things before we go out hiking. Then on our hike, we can look for the plants and animals we learned about. You can make a game out of it with Bingo cards to make it even more fun.
Forage for Food
Food foraging is another great way to teach children about nature and where food really comes from. I have been working on learning how to identify local plants that are edible. You can buy books like this one and DVDs like these to start learning about food foraging, and you can also look for local classes that offer training.