5 reasons why its vital to take kids hiking

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Hiking is a South African staple when it comes to outdoor activities, but it’s not just for adults. In fact, being introduced to hiking and nature from a young age has significant long and short term benefits.

Here are five reasons to take the young bunch with next time you tackle the mountains, forest or bushveld.

5 reasons why its vital to take kids hiking

1. Improves physical health

Both strenuous and moderate exercise are needed for optimal physical development in children, and improves their overall health. Hiking in different areas and terrains will strengthen different muscles and being fit in general lowers the risk of many  conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Remember to consult a medical professional should you have concerns about health issues in your children.

2. Improves mental health

It is well known that exercise causes the body to release endorphins, thereby reducing stress and boosting the mood. To add onto those benefits, studies have shown that being in nature makes us happier and calmer. Combining exercise and the outdoors is a recipe for success. Even young children can suffer from stress, anxiety and depression among other mental health issues, and hiking might aid in relieving some accompanying symptoms. Remember to always consult a medical professional should you have concerns about mental health issues in your children.

3. Contributes toward environmental education

Being exposed to nature contributes towards awareness and appreciation for the environment. Children who are made to experience different fauna, flora and environments with guidance from adults will likely learn to know more about our planet than those who are not. Letting kids hike with adults who practice good ethics like not littering, not damaging any plants or animals and not taking anything from the environment is a vital part of educating them around treating nature with respect.

4. Builds confidence

Being rewarded with great views, a cool dip in a rock pool or a scrumptious picnic during a hike are good incentives to get those heart rates up and keep going when the trail might seem demanding. Another reason to encourage children to finish a hike is to build their confidence. Praising them for completing a difficult task gives them something to be proud of. Always remember to pick age and ability-appropriate trails for you children.

5. It’s great quality family time

There is no better way to spend a day with family than unplugging the electronics and have fun together in nature. Strolling among trees or scrambling up a hill is a great opportunity to reconnect as a family and create lasting memories to cherish. Take lots of pictures to look back on and encourage the kids to take note of the names and places of their favourite hikes.

Source: getaway.co.za

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