Make Running Fun for Your Kids

By , SparkPeople Blogger
"Children may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." Author unknown

Running is such a natural activity for all of us, no matter what our age. Our bodies were designed to run. Teaching our kids the value of healthy eating and exercise is such an important role we, as parents, play in their lives. However, I believe keeping exercise fun and exciting for our kids is what will hopefully keep them interested in healthy living well into their teen and adult years.

For children under the age of 5 or 6, taking them outside and playing running games like tag or chase is a fantastic and fun way to introduce them to the sport without forcing them to follow a regimented running program. As they grow older, if they show an interest in running, then by all means let them run. Here is a link that will help guide you as to what is appropriate for each of the age groups. And if you are still uncertain as to what your child should or should not be doing, then feel free to contact the Road Runners Club of America for a list of running coaches who may be able guide your child.

As with adults, running can be such a great motivator in helping kids reach their goals. And we do know that reaching goals has been shown to boost self-confidence. This does not even account for all the great health benefits they get from being active. Girls on the Run is a wonderful program designed to teach young girls ages 8-13 to run, as well as the opportunity for them to form friendships with other girls their own age. I truly wish this program was available to me when I was growing up. Never one to enjoy the competition of team sports, I believe had I had the opportunity to participate in a running program like Girls on the Run it may have helped me through some of the trials I experienced as a kid.

With so many schools cutting back, or even eliminating physical education classes, we must determine ways to keep our youth active. Building the foundation of activity for our children is just as important as teaching them how to read and do math. However, it is very important to keep running fun.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports running for children as long as parents keep goals realistic for their child's age and not to put too much stress on their child to be the best. Putting too much emphasis on winning may drive many kids away from the enjoyment of running, therefore it may lead them to abandon the sport altogether. When we make running fun for our children, hopefully we can keep them running for a lifetime.

Have you encourage your kids to start running, even just for fun? Has your daughter even participated in a running program such as Girls on the Run? Would you consider putting her in a program like that?

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