Exercise for children: hiking

Claire James, 12

For Claire James, aged 12 when this interview took place, nothing beats hiking around the countryside.

Claire, who lives in Leicester, was just seven years old when she started going on walks. Since then, she has joined the Ramblers Association with her parents, Martin and Karen.

"We started by taking our two german shepherd dogs for walks, and decided we really liked roaming around the countryside," says Claire. "There are quite a lot of footpaths near where we live, and now we go walking all year round, even in the winter.

"My first big walk was the Leicestershire Round, which is 11 miles. But we did it bit by bit over quite a long time.

"When we joined the Ramblers my dad thought some of the walks would be too much for me, but I really surprised him. I'm really energetic and that annoys my dad because after a long walk I'll be skipping down the road while he can hardly put one foot in front of the other.

"My friends at school think I'm a bit mad, but I love being outside with my family and seeing all the colours of the flowers and everything. And walking has made me so much fitter. I think it would be a really good idea to get other kids of my age involved in walking because everyone's on about kids getting fat these days."

Claire's dad Martin is really proud of his daughter's dedication to walking. "She's learning a lot about the countryside, which is really important," he says. "And it has helped her social skills no end. She can also navigate and do compass work: how many 12-year-olds can do that?

"Claire is passionate about the Ramblers. I wish we could get more kids out walking, but these days you're competing with the TV and computer games, so it's not easy."

You can learn more about walking at the Ramblers Association.

Page last reviewed: 12/09/2012

Next review due: 12/09/2014

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