Call to Action for Parents of Overweight Kids: Sample the Delights of Hiking

The 23 May 2018 European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, organized by the European Association for the Study of Obesity revealed embarrassing facts concerning kids in Cyprus: 43% of boys and girls aged 6-9 years have a problem with excess weight; further, about half of these overweight children are obese! Stated simply, 1 in 2 of our kids experience serious health risks from a tender age.

This news calls for alarm. If you are a parent, you need to take corrective action now! Please don’t look right or left: the onus is on you. Children aged 6-9 years are still under your influence and you cannot hide behind the excuse that your child would not follow your guidance. And guidance is the secret of success. Kids respond well to parents who can lead by example, but will resist orders, because you cannot fool them. ‘If it is good for me, then why are you not following, mum?’ would leave you searching for words.

This applies equally to food, to time spent in front of a screen, to exercising. A parent who eats unhealthy because this is ‘customary’ while watching football on TV, a parent who spends hours every night browsing the internet, a parent who feels too tired or busy to get up from her couch, will have little success with instructions to their children to shape up. Kids have a good understanding of what is good and what is bad, and they don’t need your regular preaching about it.

Looked at positively, here lies a wonderful opportunity for you to (re)start on a new course, which will ensure a healthier life for you as well as your kids, and also will bring the family much closer together, doing the same things and communicating more. You may begin with a change back into the Mediterranean diet which we have abandoned, as was revealed at the European Congress by Dr. Joao Breda, from the World Health Organisation “The Mediterranean diet for the children in Mediterranean countries is gone, and we need to recover it”.

Dr. Breda came with further sad news “Physical inactivity is one of the issues that is more significant in the southern European countries”. Inevitably our sedentary life is closely related with trending activities, such as inordinate use of electronic games and the social media. A young client recently had immersed himself so deeply in it that he had given up gym exercising completely. For you as a parent, guiding your child to an active life may prove much more of a challenge than controlling what you eat and drink. Not only because what you do in front of a screen is ‘fun’, but also because you may feel that sports that suit your kid are beyond your own reach. Rightly so, only few and athletic parents can take up track sports or martial arts or play basketball any more. To this there are merely two exceptions, swimming and hiking. These are safe sports for persons of practically all ages, in general good health.

Hiking involves walking (neither jogging, nor running) in nature and contrary to swimming is not a widespread practice. Hiking through a forest or up and down a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul and is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty. Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family. It is non-competitive, thereby offering your kids a relaxing break from their daily results oriented school routine. And because all the family, even grandmas can participate, you will be amazed at the breadth and depth of conversations you will hold while you hike, leaving you at the end perhaps tired, yet feeling spiritually satiated and so close together.

Research has shown hiking to reduce levels of stress and anxiety in adults. Further research on children with hyperactivity has shown that when they are in a natural, outdoors environment their attention levels improve greatly. Finally the most astounding research results came from Professor David Strayer of the University of Kansas, whose experiments with people hiking revealed a 50% boost in their creativity.

To sample the delights of hiking, start with a google search. There are several responsible hiking clubs in the island, which will welcome you and your kids, on your journey to a better life.


Inspirational Cyprus Strollers

To wrap up the season that started January, in which we realised 20 excursions and covered a total of 206 km in 75 hours of hiking, a well-deserved celebration was held during lunch on 27 May. This was a time for reflection, for thanking and for giving. George contributed a delicious chocolate gateau, with a lit candle on top. Then Ian H (who turned out to be camera shy) followed with surprise gifts to the club’s Founder and Director. There was a greetings card, signed by dozens of members, bearing the central message “Thank you for your organisation and your inspiration” and other touching messages from all. A second gift was a large 94X64 cm frame bearing a selection of past photographs from our hikes; this now adorns a wall in Xenophon’s apartment. Yet a third gift was an album bearing many colour 30X21 cm printouts of photographs from past activities.

Xenophon was for once lost for words, immersed in a sea of warm sentiments. The feeling now is that this club has grown enough, to be an important part of the leisure and creative life of so many wonderful persons, past, present and new members, from all Continents! Have a nice summer and join us again in October for the next season. Compliments to Ian H and George. Compliments also to Koula, Christos and Clara for the photos.


Unbeatable Troodos Experience – 27 May

A large, cheerful group of Strollers, including newcomers, walked the 2 trails at Almyrolivado on Sunday 27 May, under a sky which offered us only the shade of clouds, but no rain. The outing offered many memorable experiences. Among them a stream which we liked to claim was a mini waterfall; a lizard/ kourkoutas, some 30 cm long, which rapidly crossed our path, making us grateful that dinosaurs are extinct; barber’s brush, Cypriot slang for the flower of the day; a 500-years-old Juniper tree; the artificial lake in Amiantos; and a seesaw which younger members enjoyed in action. There has been also a remarkable initiative in play, Sheri’s efforts to pick up litter found along our path. Such are the delights of hiking with your favourite club! Compliments to Christos and Clara for the photos.

Internationally Appealing Strollers – Atalanti 19 May

A large group, made up of Strollers from ten different nationalities* and once more including several newcomers, walked Atalanti trail, high up on Troodos on Saturday 19 May. On our way we encountered eagles flying above, heard the rare cuckoo song and were accompanied by harmless swarms of coleoptera of two sorts, for several kilometres. Compliments to Clara and Maria for the photos. Join us at Almyrolivado on 27 May for a joyful finale to this long season *England, USA, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Greece and Cyprus

Dry. Wet. Sunny. – Platania 13 May

The excursion of Sunday 13 May offered several weather changes; the forward leg of the hike was dry; the return leg was very wet, just as forecast; and then the sun came out, over lunch. This was also Mother’s Day and here are some contributions from our members:

*In the presence of a mother, we feel that our childhood has not all departed

*Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.. (an expression of the sentiment that a woman eventually grows up to be like her mother-sooner or later)

* When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be, whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken-hearted people, living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see, there will be an answer, let it be

(John Lennon and Paul McCartney both lost their mothers as teenagers)

Rare Mouflon Sighting – 5 May

The excursion of Saturday 5 May in the forest near Kykkos monastery offered surprises and rewards, some unforeseen. Prime among them was the family of mouflons (the endemic wild goats) that the front of our line succeeded in seeing, as they were running away from human intrusion, faster than we could focus our cameras. Such was the luck bestowed on Stavros, our 1st time leader; such are the delights of daring into nature with the Cyprus Strollers. Compliments to Stavros, who enjoyed this experience to the full; compliments also to Antonia, Christine and Clara for the photos. Join us on 13 May at Platania

An Especial Pack of Strollers on the Grand Circle – 29 April

The Cyprus Strollers delivered the year’s toughest hike on Sunday 29 April. An especial pack of members, especial as evidenced by their dietary preferences and aided by a cloudy sky, delighted in the many rewards the Grand Circle offers; among them the rare paeony flowers, and a corner with a stone table and stools, as if it came from a set for the Flintstones. The lunch that followed at Fountoukia taverna in Saranti was an unforgettably rich experience. Compliments to Christos for leading this outing and to Evi for the photos. Join us on 5 May at Kykkos