Keiki Fitness – Hiking
The thing I like about hiking is that it can be a great workout, but it doesn’t have to feel like one. It’s an adventure, a chance to experience something new. I love a good gym workout too, but a windowless box really doesn’t offer the same sense of accomplishment or the views that Koko Head, Mauawili Falls, or any of the other trails on Oahu do. The other great thing about hiking is that it can be enjoyable for your whole family, keiki and kupuna included, provided you choose a trail that matches everyone’s ability. And best of all, it’s FREE!
Hiking with kids (keiki fitness!) brings its own special set of challenges, the trail selection being just the first. If you are unsure about which trail to start with, or need some ideas about kid-friendly hikes other than Manoa Falls and Diamond Head then check out Outdoor Ohana. Allison and her family have tackled many Oahu trails and she gives a wealth of information about each. This is actually a great resource for anyone looking for detailed information about some of the easier hikes on the island, whether or not you have children.
Before you set out on the trail, make sure you prepare! Pack enough water and snacks to make sure everyone can avoid hunger induced crankiness and is properly hydrated. Fruit, sandwiches, and homemade trail mix (or a brand without added sweeteners, oils, dyes, or preservatives) all travel very well. Remember that you are doing something to benefit your health, so avoid loading up on sodas, sports drinks, candy, and other junk. Carry insect repellent, especially in the wetter areas. Make sure everyone has proper footwear: slippers are generally not a good idea.
Play games on the trail. An hour or two can seem like a REALLY long time for a child (and for their parents too!). Play twenty questions. Point out a something in the distance and have your children guess how many step there and back it is, then have them check. Ask younger children to find something as tall as they are. See who can balance a leaf of their head for the longest amount of time. You don’t have to be continuously entertaining your kids, you sometimes it’s helpful for them to have a short term distraction during the longer-term time frame of completing the hike.
Photocopy the pages for your hike from a trail guide. There is no need to lug around 5 pound book when you will only need a few pages at a time. If you’re into having insider information, guidebooks are full of factoids. You’ll be glad your not weighed down by tons of extra stuff by the end, especially if you needed to help out one of the little ones for awhile.
Any other good tips about outdoor excursions with kids you’d like to share? What’s your favorite Hawaii family hike?
Don’t forget to sign up for the Honolulu 5K for Kids! It supports much needed, but chronically underfunded physical education programs in Hawaii Public Schools.