Young kids can have fun walking while you secretly get them fit. Here are several great tips on how to get even the youngest child enthusiastic.

Kids like to hear “have fun” rather than “get fit.”

You’re the only one who has to know that the walking they’ll be doing will help make them fitter.

How to Get Kids to Walk Long Distances and/or for Fitness

You might be thinking that walking long distances isn’t necessary, as kids get enough play outdoors.

However, some parents have noticed that when it’s time to do extended lengthy walks while on vacation or shopping, children often tire quickly and become cranky.

Sitting them down and getting them a sugary snack is not a smart solution.

Little legs can become fitter, and a child’s body never needs processed sugary snacks.

• Take them to scenic places such as around a lake or pond, on a path through a park, or someplace where they’d be enthralled with the scenery.

• Don’t take them on the same route every time.

• For older kids, give them a camera to take pictures.

• Include locations where kids can step up and down on things, leap over objects or safely jump around.

pexels/anete lusina

• Bring along healthy snacks and water. And put sunscreen on your kids 45 minutes before you venture outside.

“I think each family needs to come up with their own plan,” says Robert Saul, MD, a board certified pediatrician for 40+ years and Professor of Pediatrics at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

“In the doctor’s office (with the help of motivational interviewing), I let the family talk out loud about a plan to start walking for fun and family time. 

“But it needs to be fun and focused on long-term health and its benefits. 

“And I emphasize about the need for the whole family to do it. If the child needs exercise, so do the parents. 

“They can start with so many minutes a day, so far a day, so many days a week or whatever makes the most sense. 

“But it should never be too ambitious, because that is a formula for failure — small incremental steps to start.

“Perhaps children could report to their grandparents about their progress, and the grandparents can share in their fun.”


In addition, include routes that have hills and winding trails. Make sure your kids wear footwear that’s designed for walking: sneakers.

Sandals are inappropriate, and the leather straps can irritate the skin.

Flip flops are even worse, preventing skipping, jumping and running.

A child’s feet will not roast on a hot day in sneakers. Just make sure the kids are well-hydrated and wearing comfortable clothes.

Dr. Saul is the coauthor of “Thinking Developmentally: Nurturing Wellness in Childhood to Promote Lifelong Health,” and author of “Conscious Parenting: Using the Parental Awareness Threshold.” His website is
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.