Have you ever told your kids, “Stop running in the house!” or “Slow down?” We tell kids not to run for their own safety, so they don’t trip on something at the pool or run into something indoors, but the fact that we say these things so often gives an indication of kids’ natural desire to run.
Instead of discouraging running, let’s look at how to encourage your kids to run and give them safe opportunities to do so.
Benefits of Running for Kids
- Improves health – The CDC recommends that children get 60 or more minutes of aerobic activity per day to be the healthiest version of themselves.
- Strengthens muscles and bones – Running helps build muscle and bone density, according to the CDC.
- Helps them get more sleep – Getting plenty of physical exercise can help kids sleep better and feel more rested.
- Improves self-esteem – Movement boosts endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals that help combat depression. Running achievements can give kids a boost of self-esteem. Running in positive, competitive environments, like running races, can give kids a sense of accomplishment and community.
How to Train Kids to Run
- Know your child’s physical ability. A 5-year-old child may have a lot of energy, but a 10k isn’t an appropriate race for his or her ability.
- Set realistic goals with your child. If you’re just getting started, jogging around the block might be a good start. A few months in, sign up for a 1 mile fun run.
- Be positive. Let your child know it’s not about winning or losing a race; it’s about completing it to the best of his or her ability. Cheer on your child and other children on the team or in the race. Make it a fun experience for all!
- Give your child a safe environment to train. Find a track or place with sidewalks, so that your child is safe from any potential trip or traffic hazards. Competitive Edge provides great indoor facilities where your child can train regardless of the weather.
- Be a good role model. It might be tempting to relive your track experience through your child, but respect that your child is their own person. Be respectful of your child’s coaches and positively reinforce your child’s running skills.
Running for Young Kids
Younger kids typically do not have the attention span or the stamina for focused, long races. Running for young children should be fun and freeform. A great way to encourage young kids to run is through games like tag, follow-the-leader, and red light, green light.
Competitive Edge offers “Beginning Speed Classes” for kids ages 4 to 6. These are intro to track classes for younger kids. These classes are a great way to turn kids’ natural desire to run into a lifelong love of running. If you homeschool your kids, these classes are also a great way to get your P.E. in for the day!
Competitive Edge aims to develop the “complete athlete” using performance sports training in Woodbridge, VA and surrounding areas. Members are able to enhance their athletic performance and develop a competitive edge to excel in their desired sport.