by Nicole Sadlier, Mighty Movers CBR

At the start of the last school holidays someone asked me “What is your favourite playground in Canberra?” I found myself pausing at this question. I knew that the answer they were looking for was…the playground with the most equipment, the most popular one, a place with the biggest slide, or a large climbing net. To be honest, my favourite playgrounds are those closest to home and this is why:

You can leave the car at home
Most people are aware that we all sit more, and move less than previous generations – thanks to multiple car households and time saving appliances. One of the easiest ways to bring more movement into your day is through active travel. This means leaving the car at home and walking or riding to your local playground. Plus there’s another bonus – you don’t need to find a car space when you get there.

Meeting the locals
You meet other parents from your local area at your local playground, and they’re a wealth of information about what’s happening in your suburb – including playgroups, schools, events and other great play spaces. Plus your kids get make friends from your area.

Learning road safety and navigation
Travelling on foot is a great opportunity to teach your child about road safety – what to do when approaching a road, how to look for traffic and how to decide when it’s safe to cross. It also helps them to know what their local area looks like, which roads and paths lead where, and how to find their way home.

Getting some fresh air and movement
Parents often tell me that it’s hard to stay fit with small children. They’re busy and on their feet, but not always getting their heart rate up. Walking with your baby either wearing them or pushing them is a great way to sneak some faster paced movement into your day. Once your toddler starts walking, still take your pram or buggy and they can alternate between between walking and being pushed. Pushing 10kg+ up a hill works your muscles. It’s a good idea to continue taking your pram or buggy even when your little one is walking well – as it saves your back carrying them if they tire.

The journey is as fun as the destination
Remember, everything is new to a child and Canberra’s climate really showcases the changing seasons – right now there are lots of falling leaves and acorns to collect. Travelling by foot allows your child to explore what’s happening on their streets.

Remember if your playgroup is within walking distance from where you live, try leaving the car at home and walking or riding to playgroup. If you’re walking and in a rush to arrive on time, let your toddler know that you’ll be pushing them to playgroup and that they can walk and explore on the journey home. Role modelling healthy behaviours like walking, riding and moving more not only make you feel more energetic, they set your children up with healthy habits for life.