China with 15.3 million and India with 14.4 million had the highest numbers of obese childrenThe New England Journal of Medicine
Do your children exhibit any of the following?
- Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.
- Low self-esteem and lower self-reported quality of life.
- Social problems such as bullying and stigma.
These are just some of the things that are related to childhood obesity (CDC USA)
We have a national childhood urban obesity issue. Because of the lack of physical activity combined with poor dietary choices that our children are consuming, the increase in body fat has risen dramatically. Now I am not suggesting hiking as the only means to combat the growing epidemic of obesity yet getting your children outdoor on their feet has advantages that go far beyond combating obesity. Off the cuff regular hiking/trekking helps children achieve
- Good health via exercise.
- Self-sufficiency, independence & confidence by achieving physical challenges.
- Family bonding in a memorable setting.
- Fresh air
- An escape from urban distractions.
- A growing knowledge and appreciation of nature.
Being out trekking in nature gives children a break from the visual stimuli they are bombarded with every day, such as billboards, TV and social media that tell people to think and feel a certain way.
The few chubby children I knew were called “healthy.” In my circles, being thin was considered “common” or lower class — understandably so in a country that was then still reeling from famine. Things are different in a poor nation. Having meat on your bones has always been a sign of status and prosperity in my homeland. It means you are rich enough to eat wellMoni Basu, CNN
Tips to encourage children to trek
When it comes to trekking with children, the trek needs to be seen as fun, instead of a chore. Nothing’s worse than having an unhappy child along on a trek. Here are some things you can do to ensure that everyone, including children, is having an enjoyable adventure on the trail.
- Allow the children to study any maps you have of the hike. By getting them involved in the activity, they’re more likely to find it fun. All our Trek Detail articles come with a link to maps on google and wikiloc. Encourage your children to browse through them
- Choose a hike with your children’s capabilities in mind. Start small and build up the kilometres and difficulty as you go along. Here are some of our favourite child-friendly treks.
- Get your children some trekking gear of their own. This ensures that children feel more connected to the activity. Check out the children hiking gear checklist below.
- Let kids pack their own backpacks (based on a list you’ve given them). Use diffrerent coloured stuff sacks – say one for snacks, one for toiletries to keep things organized. Double check the backpack before leaving.
- Plan some games along the way. Turn any signs of wildlife (scat, bird holes in trees, fur) into an animal impression or wildflowers into a counting game. Water holes can be turned into a splash the adult game. The possibilities are endless
- Bring one of your children’s friends along. This way a child has someone other than you, to share the adventure with.
Minimal packing list for children
The right gear can make or break a trek for children.
- T Shirt with UPF (with sun protection)
- Shorts / Trousers
- Rugged Shoes
- Wind / Cold protection – Fleece
BACKPACK (Our Pick is a 10-15 litre pack)
- Stuff sacks for toiletaries
- Hand sanitiser, sunscreen, moisturiser
- Medication if any
- Metal Water Bottle
- Trail snacks
- Emergency Kit – Mini Torch, Matchbox, Firestarter, Paracord
- Rain Jacket / Poncho
But, of course, the responsibility lie not just with schools. It is equally the duty of parents to encourage and foster an interest in life that goes beyond gadgets and computer screens. With so many opportunities for adventure in the region, there is no excuse for not getting children and adults alike out into the mountains and desert to experience life as it is meant to be lived. Children understand adventure and all of us have an inner nomad, who sometimes needs to wander.Levison Wood
If you haven’t already its time to introduce your children to trekking. Period.