A Walk For All Reasons

Part One

If you don’t already love to walk, I think that you should learn to love it. Going for a walk outside together, whether in the city or the countryside, is a wonderful bonding activity and will help you have a positive impact on a child in your life.

  • Most kids today are way too sedentary. They spend most of their free time doing things that they can do sitting down. Too much use of electronics can make them get bored quickly because they are used to being constantly overstimulated. Most of what they are doing or watching on the internet or social media encourages behaviors and values you probably don’t agree with. A sure sign of this problem is that they become jaded, cranky or impolite.
  • Walking is the best all-around exercise for better brain health (ability to learn and remember), and for improving mood and emotional issues like depression, anxiety, quick temper. Did you know that studies have shown that walking is equal to or better than antidepressant medications like Zoloft and Paxil for managing symptoms of depression?
    Read more here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression
  • You can see that walking can be a great STRESS MANAGEMENT tool for yourself as well. Goodness knows, if you are not at least a little bit stressed in your role as girlfriend or step-mom, you will be at some point! Being outside, getting fresh air into your lungs and sunshine on your skin gives you access to something called “source energy” that is translated into actual chemicals inside your body that are used to give you strength and stamina.
  • You probably already know that walking is good for your physical health. You don’t need to be a jogger or to work out at the gym if exercise not really your thing; just get out and walk. Plain walking is a great way to get your lungs working, to pump more oxygen to your brain and other important places, to detoxify your system, to improve your digestion and even lose weight.

Part Two

Walking outdoors is always a walk in nature, even if you are in the city. If the kids you know are outdoorsy people anyway, then they will welcome the chance to be outside moving around. If they are not used to being outside, this is your chance to do something awesome for them!

When my step-kids were younger, they visited us only occasionally. I was in the habit of walking to the grocery store fairly often, a walk of 10 minutes or so each way. I used to say “Who wants to walk to the store with me?” and one of them would always ask to come along. Walking was not something they were used to doing at home and they seemed to really crave that activity.

I always love to point out how the sky looks and they would notice little things on the ground. Even a stroll to the grocery store can be an important journey out of the make-believe land of TV into the real world. All kids relate to you better when they spend more time in the real world. Walking in a park or a nature trail is a bonus if you have something like that near you. As I said before, if they already love being in nature they will be grateful for the excursion and if they don’t, imagine how badly they need you to show it to them!

Part Three

Walking is one of the most important parts of any weight management plan. It’s easy to fall prey to all the advertising around buying special workout equipment for your home or signing up for a membership to a gym. Those things are great but not necessary! Regular walking is all the exercise you need to keep extra pounds away.

I know this from personal experience. I sent my daughter to a primary school much farther away than the one at the end of our street so she would get at least that much exercise each day. She now happily walks 40 minutes to work every morning. My step-son walked 30 minutes each way from our house to his high school although we could have given him a ride. He appreciated the chance to move before a long day of classes, and again at the end of the school day.

As for myself, my morning walk has helped me shed about two big bags of potatoes I no longer have to carry around all day. My teenage step-daughter is a total inspiration though – she started walking 90 minutes every day and, combined with sensible eating, lost 50 pounds in less than a year. You can imagine how happy she is about that!

When it comes to being involved with raising kids, full-time or part-time, a healthier direction is always the right choice. That means that if they are used to being active, they will be glad to get out and walk with you. If they are not used to outdoor activities, this is your chance to show them how good it can feel to just get outside and move!

Part Four

The best reason to take a child for a walk is that it can do wonders for building your relationship. Talking happens naturally when we walk together and kids have a way of opening up while walking that will let them say things they might otherwise never mention. I recently heard something interesting about talking to boys in particular. Apparently, boys relate better to someone standing or sitting beside them instead of across from them. If I think back to the good talks I have had over the years with my step-sons, they were often on a walk, a car ride or sitting on the porch steps! Girls prefer to talk face to face, but I can assure you, they talk lots while walking, too!

When you are on a walk, you are able to give the child your undivided attention. It’s probably something they don’t really get a lot of. Make sure you leave your phone in your pocket. If a teenager wants to walk with headphones in, you can try to make conversation by saying “What are you listening to?” or by making remarks about the surroundings. If they agreed to go for a walk with you, they probably have something they would like to talk about but might be feeling awkward. Give him/her time, they will warm up. In my experience, they will spit it out just before you arrive home!

Every child, young or old, wants to spend more quality time with the adults in their life, strange as that may seem. Walking is a wonderful way to connect in a private, attentive way, and it will help you out again and again in forming a bond and deepening your relationship.

Part Five

One of the most common complaints among women who are involved with single dad is feeling left out. Dad and his kids share a whole history together and it can feel like you will never be included. The best way to overcome this problem is to start making your own history together, with new rituals that will belong to you and not to their old life. Going for walks is the perfect place to start.

You might find that you have a favorite place to walk that you go back to again and again, or you might enjoy finding new places to walk. Those can be new routes in your neighborhood, different parts of town, or places you look for on a map or on the internet. One step-mom I interviewed recently made a new ritual of going for mystery drives where they would spin a bottle and just head off in that direction to see what they might find. If your step-kids like nature walks, they can bring back little souvenirs to keep in a book. You can make a habit of taking a selfie together in each new place you visit or make a mark on a map of where you have been.

Walking can be an introduction to the act of making new memories together. This is the start of becoming a new family, the one you can belong to, the one you invite them to join.

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