Love to run but want to get your whole family involved? You can get your kids up and running with physical fitness fun. Here are some ideas how and why it’s a good idea.
Some parents first expose their children to running from the time they’re in the stroller. The parents’ habit of running every day gives their children the sense that exercise is part of a normal routine, and that it’s something they, too, can do.
There are many benefits to running. Families that get fit together are healthy and happy. Running increases endorphins, burns calories, builds muscles, and helps create a strong cardiovascular system. Children are natural runners and love to go fast, whether it’s on the playground, running around the yard, or chasing after a pet or a kite. Studies are showing that children who begin to enjoy running at an early age are more successful in sports, keep a healthy weight, and establish a lifetime of heart-healthy fitness habits.
In addition to the health benefits, research shows that active teens are better students. The British Journal of Sports Medicine released findings that eleven-year-olds who spend more time being active did better on some tests than eleven year olds who were less active. Their findings also showed that those who were more active as eleven-year-olds did better on some of the tests two to five years later.
Consider starting your child out with running games such as playing tag, pickle, kick the can or Red Rover or spider. What about running around with squirt guns or spraying each other with a hose? Once your child is ready to hit the road, you can continue to make it a game. Run toward a specific destination: the stop sign, the neighbor’s mailbox. Then hit the next destination. Many children cringe at the thought of running two miles, but building up from one goal to the next makes this accomplishment easier than they imagined.
Once your kids have built up some stamina and muscle, you can build up to races. Are you running a 5K? Let your kids be there to cheer you on. After they’ve seen a race and know what to expect, consider bringing the little ones along in a stroller and see if the older ones want to run alongside you. They can start out slow and build up to a faster pace.
At home, kids might enjoy fitness apps to make their running more fun. One favorite is an app that forces you to run fast to avoid a zombie attack. The app synchs with your music. As the music plays, you begin to run. Shortly after the first song, there’s a radio-like interruption that informs you that zombies have been sighted nearby. You must out-run them or be eaten!
Once you’ve proven your mettle, the DJ keeping watch in the tower above your neighborhood will allow you to become a part of their running team and will ask you to make runs to get supplies and medicines while avoiding the zombies. The app tracks your movements and knows if you’ve sped up enough to avoid the flesh eaters. What better way for your teen to enjoy running?
There are a lot of ways to make running fun. Whether it’s a family game of tag outside, running through a scavenger hunt or obstacle course or competing in a local race, getting your kids up and running is a worthwhile activity for everyone. It can give them a healthy heart, more confidence and even do better in school. Why not consider bringing your kids along next time you’re going for a run?