You see variations of this headline on the magazine covers at the check-out line. But what if there was a true, non-hype way to trim down while connecting with the ones you love? Let me tell you my secret. It’s called the family walk!
It all started when my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said I wanted to walk around the neighborhood with her and our two boys (ages 9 and 5). In my younger days in New York City, I walked everywhere through the streets, and I have never gotten used to the suburban lifestyle based on the car. Walking has always been for me a form of exercise, stress relief and exploring new things and seeing new people. It seemed like the perfect birthday gift.
We’re fortunate to live a neighborhood that is a bit off the beaten path, with some nice paved sidewalks and not too much traffic. That first walk went reasonably well. The older boy got out his Scouts hiking stick, the younger one followed along in his version of a military step and my wife carried two bottles of sports drink as her hand weights. I was just happy to be with my family, engaged in a common activity.
One week later, the family walk has become an evening tradition. We have a 40-minute route marked out. We meet neighbors along the way as they walk their dogs, or mow their lawns. We have learned where the birds nest along the wooded areas, and know where to find the rabbits hiding behind bushes or scooting across fields. Heat, humidity and even sprinkling rain have not deterred us. Last night, my wife and I even prayed the Rosary as we walked.
The benefits are many. Number One, it is a healthy family activity. We get fresh air and exercise, spend an hour with nature and one another, and get away from the computer, TV and telephone. When we get back home, we have some refreshments, then play a family game or watch a family video. Then it’s time for bed – for this tired father, as well.
The family walk. It could be a new togetherness craze!