Great Things Parents can do To Make Running Fun for Kids
We all know how important our children are for us. Parents all around the world devote a high amount of time to better their kids` health. We now live in a society that is increasingly getting less involved with physical activities as we devote more and more time to new technologies. Kids are on the frontline when it comes to balancing the intellectual with the physical. But as any parent will recognize, getting the little ones to partake in running activities can sometimes be a challenge. We made a list of great things that any parent can do to make running fun for kids.
Running must come from the kids
There is no magic formula on how much kids could run according to their age. But we do have some general guidelines. As a general rule, bone strengthening exercises, as running, are recommended at least 3 times per week for up to 60 minutes per session according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, parents should consider that every child is different and they have to think of variables such as age, experience and most importantly mood.
One way to make sure children will hate running is to force them into it. Parents need to be smart and let running come from kids, as if it was their own idea.
Follow the guidelines but keep it fun
If we find children want to run we need to keep in mind that the activity should be fun from start to finish. Of course kids, especially at the beginning, will not be running in the same way parents do. You don`t want to be that parent screaming at their kid from the sidelines, we`ve all seen the type.
In general, you should consider that kids under the age of 5 should run up to a mile. Kids between 5 and 8 could run from 1 to 3 miles. Children ages 8 to 12 could run up to 5 miles with some walking brakes. Ages 13 to 17 coincide with puberty and better physical capacity, the distance covered should be up to a half marathon (13 miles). Ages 18+ can be considered for marathons (26 miles).
These are just general guidelines. Parents need to consider that children may not have their bodies developed for running. Their biomechanics is still under development. Kids also react emotionally to activities and people around them and parents should keep in mind that running needs to be fun.
Consider new clothing
Kids love new things, clothing included. Parents should consider going shopping for new running clothes with their kids. This should make them more involved in the whole process and get them to feel positive towards running. Sometimes new, cool, shoes or T-shirts could be exactly what kids need to start thinking about running. Sports watches are also a good idea as kids love gadgets. Parents can teach kids about GPS and heart rate monitoring. Sharing these activities will bring kids closer to their parents and could make running really fun.
Nutrition is fun
Parents all around the world know the uphill battle they have with nutrition and kids. But used properly, nutrition can be a fun activity, also involved in running. Just consider making a delicious recovery shake with your kids. Children need to be involved in the process so you can even let them decide what goes into the shake. It could work with anything from peanut butter to cocoa or from honey to cinnamon. There are various ingredients that kids could have fun with and share the whole process up to blending. Parents can use the occasion to explain why nutrition is important for a healthy, balanced, lifestyle and how runners benefit from the minerals or vitamins.
Cartoons can be good friends
Many parents complain that cartoons are taking over the lives of children nowadays. But have you considered looking for cartoons that promote running? There are many options out there including: Roadrunner and Coyote, Mr. Bean or Disney promoted running events. TV has a huge visual and emotional impact on children and delivering them running-themed alternatives could spark the necessary passion in them. This is a win-win situation. Instead of trying to push children away from cartoons parents could take the opportunity to compare the running activities of fictional characters to real life situations.
Create an online group
Speaking of friends, having other kids to share running activities is a home run for sure. We know parents have little time these days to communicate with other families. That`s why parenting groups are all over the internet from Facebook to Meetup. Why not join or create a group for running with kids? It would bring back fun into running and make for great social skills training also. Kids of ages 5+ could even join classes with an instructor. The great thing is that running instructors are usually fantastic with kids and know how to make them fascinated with running.
Parents need to keep an open mind when it comes to running and remember not to push their kids into it but make it enjoyable. Keeping every running experience fun can be demanding but little tips like new clothing, running cartoons, healthy nutrition or social events could trigger the passion within.
Keep in mind that there is a lot of information on how much children should run. Some go as far as saying kids should run every day while others say the activity should be limited to three times per week. Good judgment is needed here from the parents, keeping in mind that guidelines are good to follow and being up to date with the latest medical recommendations is admirable. This being said, running should always come from kids themselves.