5 Reasons Why You Should Introduce Your Children To Running
One of the best things about running is that it is a “lifetime sport,” meaning it does not require a team or any sort of organized event. Sure, organized races and joining a running group or community are aspects of the sport that can really enhance your running experience, but they are not essential. Running can be done all alone, virtually anywhere with a road or trail or treadmill, and can easily fit around your busy schedule. Running is also great because people of all ages can do it. Lucky for you, that means you can enjoy the sport of running with your own family – from your significant other and siblings all the way down to your own children. Introducing your kids to the sport of running can teach them important life lessons, as well as help benefit their health!
One of the problems on the rise today with the increase of television, electronics, social media, and handheld device usage is that children are becoming more sedentary at younger ages. This has led to a rising childhood obesity epidemic, which eventually turns into more and more adults who are overweight and/or obese and who are facing a greater number of health concerns. Getting your kids out on a run with you can really reverse these trends though. The beauty of childhood lies in intuition – children live intuitively. For the most part, they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. If they have eaten a lot of sugar or carbohydrates, they usually have more energy to expend and want to jump, run, and play. Allow that kind of natural movement to happen, but also suggest that they join you on a run around the block if they become overly wired.
Rather than forcing children to run or do physical activity for the wrong reasons, encouraging them to join you for a run will help children associate running with positive memories and be more inclined to keep up with running on their own as they get older. The physical health benefits that running provides are certainly important, but the mental health benefits of running are incredibly important as well. Again, studies show that with increased use of social media and “screen time,” future generations will fight harder and harder to keep their mental health. Running is a natural and safe way to make sure their serotonin levels are balanced, especially for those kids who have a family history of anxiety and/or depression.
It Teaches Them To Set Goals
Running can certainly be a simple hobby or pastime, but it can also challenge you to set goals for yourself, and work diligently towards them. This can be especially helpful for teaching your child how to set an attainable goal that requires diligence, hard work, and persistence to achieve. If they fail to reach or attain the goal, then they can learn the (often, very hard) lesson of picking yourself up and try again. If they reach the goal, they have a new understanding of the value of working hard and pushing yourself. Basically, learning to set running goals and working to achieve them or dusting yourself off and moving forward when you don’t, can easily translate to how you set and work toward goals in other parts of your life.
It Helps Them Learn Accountability
Whether it means having to be accountable to a friend you promised you would meet for some 5am miles or holding yourself accountable to find and stick with a training plan in order to be able to race at your very best, running can teach your children the importance of accountability. In the same way, it can also teach your children about personal responsibility. As runners, we know we have to figure out when we can fit runs into our schedules, figure out our own nutrition needs and make healthy choices even when we don’t always want to, and show up for others when we say that we are. These are important things to learn, and the younger, the better!
It Provides A Unique And Special Bond With Them
There are lots of traditions you can choose to form with your children, and running together can create a unique bond. When children run with their parents, both the fun runs and the not-so-fun runs, they can feel like it is something hard, challenging but rewarding that they can do with their parents that not everyone can. And if your child starts to really like running, then you can bond together over it for years to come. Looking back, don’t you want your child to remember all the cool places you ran together, and to cherish those memories that they two of you pushed each other and encouraged each other up the hills and on the long distances?
Good Habits Create More Good Habits
If you get your child into a sport like running, not only could they thrive physically and mentally, but healthy, good choices and habits often lead to other healthy and good choices. Studies show that students who participate in organized sports teams both in high school and college do better in school, overall. Not only that, but sports like cross country and track that take an extreme amount of self-discipline tend to have higher GPA’s than other sports.
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In short, running can also help your child learn the self-discipline it takes to study and excel in the classroom. Likewise, kids who participate in sports like running are far less likely to become preoccupied by other habits that aren’t as healthy.
- NCAA Grade-Point Average, NCAA Website ,
- A STUDY IN THE GRADE POINT AVERAGE OF ATHLETES VS. NON‐ATHLETES, Northwest State Missouri University Research Paper ,
- 6 Reasons to Encourage Your Child to Run, Active.com Blog ,