The folks at ParticipACTION, proponents of a healthy, active and fit Canada, recommend that children ages 5 to 17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. That sounds like a lot to pack in, considering how many activities children are involved in these days. But making running part of a child’s life doesn’t have to be difficult. The key is keeping it fun.
Most young children love to run. They don’t necessarily consider it running. They play tag, they chase each other, and they race. They elevate their heart rates, mostly in short bursts. They have fun. Gradually, they move on to less vigorous activities on the playground, get lured into the sedentary world of TV and video games, and leave parents scrambling to get them into organized sports and other programs to get them active. The thing is they never have to stop running. If we want to encourage them to become “runners”, we only need to offer them support, guidance, a safe place to practice, and some of our time. It’s cheap, it’s convenient, and it’s effective.
Children of runners are more likely to want to run. The want to imitate what we do (until they hit that age at which parents become the most un-cool people on the planet.) So get them started early, while you’re still awesome! Below is our top 10 list of tips for turning your children into runners. Note that many of these tips apply to adult beginners as well. Over the next few posts, we’ll elaborate on these tips.
- Model the behaviour you want them to follow by becoming a runner yourself.
- Start off slowly, then add distance and speed later.
- Practice interval training, using a run/walk progression.
- Change up the route so it doesn’t become boring.
- Encourage your child to join a running club at school or in the community.
- Participate in local running activities and events.
- Keep distances reasonable for the age of the child.
- Set goals and help your child build a plan to achieve them.
- Run while on vacation – it’s a great way to see the sites.
- Make it fun.
Are you going for a short run tonight? Why not try running family style?