A Walking We Will Go

Exercise for the sake of exercise has never been my gig. I know getting a good work out is as "easy" as stepping out the door for a walk but my efforts at making this a regular part of my routine have been half-hearted at best.

I am thankful for our weekend hikes that take our family up a mountain and down again, walking (with packs) usually six to eight miles. That's a good start. But I've been wondering for some time how to add more walking to our weekday routine.

Thank goodness for my husband, who is both very health conscious (he has lifted weights or run/walked almost each day for years) and a creative problem solver. It was his idea, to turn our regular, weekly trip to the library into a family walk night. Sigh. I love this man.  

So now, instead of driving to the library on Wednesday morning (just me and the kids) we walk together as a family one night a week. It's a bit challenging. I have to have supper on the table by 5pm and there are dishes to be done when we get home at 8pm but it's worth these little inconveniences.

Damien and I are always looking for ways to integrate our family values into common and shared activities. And I think we just hit upon a good solution to incorporate more exercise into our weekday lives, spend quality time together and accomplish a key piece in the weekly homeschool routine.

The walk itself is just over 3 miles, round trip. And if we hoof it (and we do) it takes us 35 minutes one way. Because we are carrying weight on our backs we are building bone strength. This is especially important for me because of my slight build so I carry a larger proportion of the weight.

Carrying all this weight helps us train for backpacking as well. Another one of our family activities.

These weekly trips to the library are just another part of that healthy, whole family picture.

Have you found ways to exercise together as a family?

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  • Adventure-Some Matthew

    Adventure-Some Matthew on Sept. 24, 2010, 12:54 p.m.

    My wife and I have been going on walks. The main point might be to walk for the sake of walking, but we're doing our best to make it enjoyable otherwise.

    We head to either the nearby park, which is wooded on the outside of the trail and nicely grassed on the inside to walk the trail. There we pass a few other people who have thus far been quite friendly.

    Or we head to the state arboretum, and enjoy checking out the scenery. The people aren't quite as friendly here (there are too many to really greet everyone) but that's ok.

    Even though we're walking just to walk, it's nice to carve out some time together, which we seem to be short on here recently. We spend time together, just walking and talking and enjoying each others' company.


  • Karen

    Karen on Sept. 24, 2010, 3:11 p.m.

    A splendid idea - incorporating exercise into family lifestyle, an alternative to "daddy at the gym, mom at yoga class, and the kids scattered at gymnastics, soccer and swimming". Not that I'm against those, but as I'm re-thinking my own keep-fit philosophy, I've been looking for real-life examples to share with other families I know. Bikes (with paniers) are great when the weather's cooperative - yesterday's cycle to the Lunenburg farmer's market gave me an hour's ride plus transportation to carry home 3 pounds of apples, 4 pounds of fish and meat, 2 containers of feta and yogurt and some baked goodies for my resident house-builder. Everybody's happy.


  • Kika

    Kika on Sept. 24, 2010, 3:37 p.m.

    When I first moved to the town I live in, there were no "big-box stores"; the kids and I walked everywhere and I liked that I could get fresh air and exercise while getting errands done too. Over the past several years, however, all the little shops on main street have been closing down and instead, enormous (ugly) and spread-apart stores have taken over. Yuck! This in no way promotes healthy living in small towns. Your family trek to the library sounds wonderful. Admittedly, the "come hell or high water" part frightens me (hee!hee!) but what a great way to spend family time.


  • Maryam

    Maryam on Sept. 24, 2010, 6:33 p.m.

    what an awesome post! i'm so so glad i saw this. i loved damien's post on the other blog about adventuring together as a family instead of splitting off. we've begun to have weekend excursions into nature with intention, rather than just sort of hoping it happens by accident. i've decided to make it a part of things here, and everyone's excited. this post about going to the library together (and in the evening!) is so inspiring!


  • Pamela

    Pamela on Sept. 24, 2010, 7:17 p.m.

    Like you, I need a destination! We like to ride our bikes together as a family. My oldest daughter is now old enough to ride her bike on a few of our normal trips around town. She loves it! My youngest is still riding on the back of our XtraCycles, which she enjoys.

    My in-laws only live 6 blocks away, so we often walk to their house together. We like to do it in almost any weather, and they usually think we are ridiculous for not taking the car.


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Sept. 24, 2010, 9:01 p.m.

    Awesome! We often go for family walks, bike rides, runs, in the evening. Sometimes we walk to the library or Farmer's market. Our girls are little, so if they ride their bikes it provides the perfect opportunity for my husband and I to run along side them. We just did this last night.

    I wish you were still doing Friday flowers...I finally got a sunflower to grow and bloom. We just moved out of our rental, so I had to go back over last night to cut it!


  • Amanda

    Amanda on Sept. 24, 2010, 11:37 p.m.

    In winter, we ski together (cross country) as a family. We spend the entire day on Saturday and Sunday skiing, and then one or two afternoons a week as well. It is a terrific family sport.

    We are all cyclists but riding together is more challenging than skiing. We try to take family bike rides at least once a week, though.

    I wish it were possible to get my husband hiking/walking. I can get him to take after dinner walks during the summer, and maybe one short hike a year, once the bugs are gone, but that's about it!


  • Sea

    Sea on Sept. 25, 2010, 1:36 a.m.

    Thank you for this post. When my oldest was younger every Friday after school we would walk to the library, no matter the weather either. We integrated walking when I was pregnant with our son, then for awhile we took family walks a few times a week after dinner. Those are some of my favorite memories with my family. We have not done it in awhile and I have been thinking about doing it again, and I like the idea of walking somewhere in mind and what better place than the library! Thanks!


  • Rana

    Rana on Sept. 25, 2010, 3:23 a.m.

    We like to bike ride. We don't always have a destination. The kids like to take turns being the leader and we follow them to where ever they take us. It also helps with their sense of direction. It lets me know if they know where we are in regards to our house.


  • Francesca

    Francesca on Sept. 25, 2010, 5:33 a.m.

    I find your thoughts and your way of "integrating your family values into common shared activities" very inspiring Renee. And I love the photos of your family walking hand in hand through the city to the library.


  • debbie

    debbie on Sept. 25, 2010, 3:32 p.m.

    Hmmmm...this makes me wonder if we could make it to our library and back in one piece (so to speak...)! I think it would have to be 4.5 miles. Something to strive for. I just wrote a bit about how we incorporate parts of our homeschooling day into our hiking - http://plotfiftyfive.blogspot.com/2010/09/reading-hikes.html - and we've just started working at/attending a weekly "farm school" which is down the bike path 1 3/4 miles or so, and it makes for a great walk in the morning (carrying snacks, clean linens, and books for the day), and a bit of a struggle in the afternoon (snack and linens replaced by 2 gallons of raw milk!)...but walking, hiking, doing together is where we enjoy most of our exercise in our family too!


  • Granola Girl

    Granola Girl on Sept. 25, 2010, 9:03 p.m.

    How much weight do you have the kids carrying at this point? We have really kicked up our walking to train, but only have Dae carrying between 5-10 lbs and are doing under 10 miles. I can imagine books getting heavy, but you are going less mileage. I'm sure Damien is probably like Jules and has this all figured out somehow. As the mom, I worry :)


    • renee

      renee on Sept. 25, 2010, 9:40 p.m.

      Hum... I think they are carrying 4lbs of books, or so says Celine since Damien isn't here for me to ask.  Don't worry mom (smile).


  • New Urban Habitat

    New Urban Habitat on Sept. 25, 2010, 9:38 p.m.

    I love this, Renee. You've combined two of my favorite things - walking and libraries! It just doesn't get better than that (unless you were to stop for ice cream on the way home). I love how you guys live so intentionally.


  • Naomi

    Naomi on Sept. 26, 2010, 12:50 a.m.

    Unfortunatly we've been slacking in this area. Up until last summer we were walking at least 3-4 times a week, a couple miles each time, as a family. First it was just me and Glen, then one baby came along, then another, and now we've got three! But seeing as the two older ones like to walk themselves it's not as "fitness" oriented and we only go around the block, which still takes the same amount of time as it did for me and Glen to go two plus miles.

    This Spring, I started pushing Nemo and Daphney in the double stroller with Atlas in the wrap, but I ended up respraining my wrist doing that, so I sold the stroller. I hope to get back into longer walks, but for now I'm grateful for the leisurely family strolls down the road and back. It's just as much an adventure for three littles!


  • Wayfaring Wanderer

    Wayfaring Wanderer on Sept. 26, 2010, 1:54 a.m.

    I've had daily walks on my to-do list for longer than I can remember. Have I done them? No. Now, I have been sticking with my daily yoga routines, but I haven't seemed to work in taking walks daily or even weekly.

    Cody talked me into going for a walk today on a greenway trail that is a short walk from our house. Seriously, we have an awesome place to walk, but don't utilize it as often as we should. I'm glad that we went for a stroll today. Hopefully, we'll slowly work in another day of walking here and there going forward.

    Maybe I don't realize that I am like you in the way that I need a purpose for adding that activity to my weekly to-do list, so that I may be more driven to actually do it.

    I could try a new hike every week and report on it at WW. That might be an idea!


  • Natalia

    Natalia on Sept. 26, 2010, 7:08 a.m.

    I hate driving. Really hate it. So we will usually walk everywhere. We used to walk every school day to school and back, rain, snow or shine, but as my son will no longer be going to school after next Wednesday (yay!) we will have to find other ways. Our library is not that far away (1.2km round trip) but even a little bit each day is good, with a long walk maybe once a week - when we travel, or go in to London, we inevitably walk, a lot. And when my husband is around, we have weekend hikes like you do! Good on you for deciding to make walking a bigger part of your life AND a family activity. Of course, I would not expect any less of the FIMBY crew :)


  • Kelly

    Kelly on Sept. 27, 2010, 1:30 a.m.

    This is so wonderful, and so making me miss living in the city! I used to live in Boston and walk everywhere, all over the city. Baby in the ergo and off we would go. Now I'm in a much smaller city and sidewalks and crosswalks are scarce in residential areas. We do walk in our little neighborhood and go for hikes on the weekend but I sorely miss going for long adventures on foot.


  • Mel

    Mel on Sept. 28, 2010, 3:22 p.m.

    Good for you for incorporating walking into everyday life. We are lucky to be able to walk to the store, library, park, river and just about everywhere we want to go. Even my three-year-old can walk or ride his balance bike most everywhere (I get to push the two-year-old in the stroller, which is big enough to carry groceries etc.). Like you, we want our kids to be outside as much as possible, and we also want to reduce our carbon footprint. Hopefully, by having one vehicle and walking/biking instead, our kids will learn from our example (without us having to tell them anything!).


  • Jo Brown

    Jo Brown on Oct. 15, 2010, 1:08 p.m.

    Wow. I'm all inspired. We had been biking to the library (sans papa) during the week, but I'd slacked off and we hadn't done it in weeks.

    I'm eager to see how this works out for you in the snow. We just moved from the UK where we walked or took public transportation just about everywhere since I didn't drive. Now we are in Michigan and I'm nervous about the snow.


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 15, 2010, 1:16 p.m.

      We hike all winter in the snow, in the mountains of Maine. We're ready for it (Smile). You can read more about our hiking outdoors philosophy here:

      One Day A Week


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