Fitness Articles

How to Choose a Jogging Stroller

Features Worth Paying For

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So you've been cleared for exercise after the birth of your baby and you're anxious to get outside and get moving! But who's going to watch your little one? If running or walking is your thing, you can take baby along in a jogging stroller. You'll get the exercise you crave, and baby gets a scenic tour of the neighborhood, with some fresh air to boot.

Jogging strollers have become more popular in recent years, motivating manufacturers to create even more models. This gives the consumer a great variety to choose from, but actually choosing which stroller to purchase can be a daunting task. Here are some features to consider when choosing a jogging stroller:

Wheel Size
In the world of wheels, size matters. A true jogging stroller has three large wheels: one in front and two in the back. The larger wheels mean a smoother ride because there is less rolling resistance. Wheels come in 12-inch, 16-inch, and 20+ sizes. To decide which size is best for you, think about how you will use the stroller.
  • 12-inch wheels are best for walking on smooth surfaces, like sidewalks, bike paths, and indoors.
  • 16-inch wheels are great for frequent outdoor walking or jogging on fairly smooth surfaces, with light off-road use (like cutting across a grassy field).
  • 20-inch (and larger) wheels are made for frequent long-distance running and off-road use.
Alloy or Steel
Look for alloy wheels and hubs, rather than steel. Steel is cheaper but is heavier and has a tendency to rust. If you have to get steel and live in a "salty" place (winter road salt, ocean salt), rinse the wheels and hubs after strolling to prevent rust.

Front Wheel: To Swivel or Not To Swivel?
Most jogging strollers have a fixed front wheel, one that doesn't turn. This is ideal for jogging, because this feature provides the stability and straight tracking that you need. But if you're using the stroller at the mall for example, a fixed wheel may become a nuisance when you have to tilt the stroller back onto its rear wheels to make a turn.

Manufacturers have created a "hybrid" jogging stroller with a swiveling front wheel, which boasts superior maneuverability for those indoor situations. However, a hybrid isn't the best choice for everyone. The swiveling front wheel is usually 12" or smaller, and although the wheel can be locked in position, the small size decreases the stroller's handling abilities—especially outdoors on rough terrain. So, if you plan to do a lot of running (or off-roading), consider buying both a true fixed-wheel jogging stroller and a traditional stroller for trips to the mall. But if you just jog occasionally, a hybrid makes sense. Think about how you will use the stroller when making this decision.

Five-point harness
For your baby's safety, a five-point harness comes standard with most models. They are especially important when traveling at fast speeds-when you're running like the wind!

Canopy
An unhappy passenger can bring your run to a halt, so make sure baby is comfortable underneath a large, adjustable canopy to shade her from the elements.

Seat construction
Look for a padded seat that reclines. Reclining seats are great for running during naptime, and for young babies who have less head control. A neck roll is sometimes included, or can be purchased separately.

Suspension
Depending on what type of terrain you anticipate encountering on your runs, you might consider a stroller with shocks. If you intend to take the baby speed walking through the mall, then don't waste your money on this feature.

Arm Leash or Wrist Tether
This feature comes standard on a good jogging stroller. Basically it's like a dog leash attached to the back rear of the stroller, with the loop end worn around your wrist. It is necessary because these strollers are built for speed, and if you lose your footing you may have a runaway baby carriage.

One-Step Folding
Make sure it doesn't take two people to fold up the stroller. Have the salesperson demonstrate, and then try to do it by yourself a few times. Wrestling with the stroller in a hot parking lot probably isn't the kind of exercise you're looking for.

Size
Does the folded up stroller fit in your trunk? Some strollers are a little cumbersome, and some are downright huge, so if you've got a small car, look for one that can travel with you.

Frame construction
Jogging strollers with a welded aluminum frame, although more expensive, are lighter and much more sturdy than their competitors, which are made with metal tubes connected with plastic joints.

Adjustable Handlebars
If you're extra tall, this might be worth considering. If you buy your stroller from a store, take it for a test drive before purchasing to make sure it's the right height for you. If you go with large wheels, the stroller will sit higher too. To determine your optimal handle height, stand up straight with your shoulders back, arms to your sides. Bend your elbows so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. The distance between your hands and the floor is your optimal handle height.

Weight Limit
If you plan on jogging with child in tow for a while, consider the total cargo-plus-passenger weight limit. The higher-priced strollers usually have stronger welded aluminum frames and can support more weight. Remember that kids don't travel light, especially when you factor in the diaper bag, snacks, drinks and toys.

Cost
Although not really a feature, jogging stroller prices can range from $75 to over $400, so cost may factor into your decision as much as many of the features above. Quality strollers are easier to use, last longer, and retain their resale value. You really do get what you pay for.

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Member Comments

  • LIPON677
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  • We have a baby trend. It is one of the cheapest you can get and it is great! Highly recommend.
  • I have to disagree with the comment about the swivel wheel. I have the above mentioned "hybrid" stroller (Schwinn Turismo) with a front wheel that swivels and locks into place, however, I never lock the wheel. It's much easier to maneuver when it's in the swivel mode and I never feel like it's out of control when I'm running (I never run fast enough for that to be a problem! haha!!)
    I'm incredibly happy with our Schwinn jogging stroller. I only ever use it for jogging or if we're going to an outdoor activity (zoo, park, etc) simply because it's really heavy and quite large to drive around in a mall or store setting. I would highly recommend it!
  • @Sandibetts: It's better to just let your son live his life instead of assuming he's going to get married and have kids. Not all of us do so, and live healthy, happy lives as well.

    Thank goodness my parents didn't have those kinds of designs on me, and were supportive when I told them that I had chosen not to have children and that I wasn't too keen on marriage either. Just sayin'.
  • As a new father back in 1988 I had the where with all to strap my daughter into her stroller and I decided to try and job with a 4 wheeled stroller. At some point the two front wheels went sideways causing me to go over the top of the stroller and my daughter hanging upside down strapped in staring at me lying on the ground. Thank God I had her strapped in as small as the strap was.
  • SANDIBETTS1
    My baby is nearing his fourth decade (38), however, this is good info to share when the wife and grandbabies come. sbb
  • I have an InStep Flash and love it!! It's bright orange and has reflective lights on it--great for running in the early morning!! Mine also has a parentttray which I use to keep the kid's sippie cup and my keys in. I looked at a few models with child-trays as well, but didn't feel it was necessary, but it might be an added bonus if your kid likes to drink a lot while you're running. The only downfall of mine is that the canopy doesn't actually move; it folds in/up and out/down, but it doesn't actually move so if we're running head on into the sun, it's really not helpful even if it's in the open-most position. We just fix that by wearing sunglasses, but that is definitely a feature I wish mine had!
  • I also wanted to say that we live in a northern city and I use my jogging stroller very happily walking on ice and through light snow. It is only once the snow is about 6" - 12" deep that I start to run into problems. And to think I was reluctant to spend the money in the first place!
  • We have a Bob Revolution and I would highly recommend it. For the past 2 years I have used it every day for at least an hour of walking, plus we jog with it. It rolls well, has all the features recommended in the article, and has stood up to our wear and tear. Here in Canada it is around the $400 mark, but in the US these things are typically significantly cheaper.
    Happy jogging, everyone!
  • GIANT-STEPS
    Two points I'd add to this article.

    Combination jog strollers and bike trailers are available and are an excellent choice for people who also cycle.

    24" wheeled jog strollers are available and will roll smoother and more efficiently than 20" wheels. I've looked for 700c wheeled strollers but haven't found any.
  • LILMAMAVT
    This is a great Article. We are looking into getting a jogger, and now we can move in the right direction.

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.