Walking and orienteering for kids

Family walking outdoors
Walking is something most of us take for granted. But did you know that regularly taking the kids on a walk has some great health and educational benefits? We take a look at what walking could offer your child.

Although you may not consider it a sport, walking is a physical activity which most children can participate in. Aside from being an enjoyable pursuit, it can also help improve children’s health. Even the least active child, who claims to lack any sporting aptitude, probably still finds time to walk from the sofa, to the games console, via the TV and back to the sofa.

If children can participate in this kind of walking that then there is no reason why they can't try walking longer distances in more varied settings. The unique thing about walking is it’s a form of exercise that almost every child should be confident participating in, although getting them interested may be another matter…

The benefits of getting children walking

For most children walking is just another everyday activity which gets in the way of the real task at hand – playing around with friends, reading storybooks and generally getting lost in a world of make believe. The key to making them realise the benefits of walking is to appeal to their imaginations and to make the whole thing a fun, social activity. By taking your child out on a nature trail, or for a trek up a (reasonably sized) hill, you will not only be spending time together, learning about the environment, but you’ll also be getting exercise without even giving it any thought. Going out with other families also adds to the experience as children get to discover the scenery around them with friends their own age. You could even suggest your child joins an orienteering club where they can meet new friends and have adventures exploring the great outdoors.

Orienteering: adventure walking for kids!

The physical and educational benefits of walking are also evident, as orienteering has become increasingly popular as a school activity, covering aspects of geography, mathematics (map-reading) and PE (adventurous activity) in the National Curriculum. What makes orienteering particularly accessible to children of all ages and fitness levels is the fact that they can turn up at a local event and go round the course with their mates at a pace that suits them. As for equipment – all you need to get started is some comfortable clothes that you don’t mind dirtying, a strong pair of boots or trainers, and a red biro to fill in your control card as you reach each point. Beginners don’t even need a compass!

Finding a walk to suit your child

Orienteering events can be found all over the UK and are held throughout the year, come rain or shine. These events are treated by many as a family day out. To find a local club ring the British Orienteering office on 01629 734042 or visit www.britishorienteering.org.uk. Get your child excited with a great video introduction from British Orienteering – who says walking can't be fun?