On average, kids from ages 6 to 17 should get at least an hour of activity each day. Running is even suggested as a perfect activity for helping kids build a strong heart and strong bones. For little kids, running is even something of an instinct and often a big part of play. So, as a parent, how do you teach your kids to become runners and help them enjoy a lifetime of physical activity? Start with these tips.
Start Slow With Family Walks
Before you run, walk. It sounds simple, but starting with family walks around the neighborhood, at local tracks, or on nature trails can eventually turn into an interest in running. During your walk, challenge your little one to race to the next mailbox or tree. For older kids, ask if they'd like to try jogging or running alongside you. When you do it together, they may find a little added support and encouragement.
Set an Example
Whether they'll ever admit to it or not, your kids are always watching you. Show them how much you love running. Focus on the benefits rather than making it feel like a punishment or something that's difficult and trying. Start when they're little — run or jog with a stroller.
Make It Fun
Running in circles or from one point to another isn't usually too exciting for younger children. Adding a little extra fun can make it more appealing. Have races. Set up an obstacle course. Play running games like tag.
Keep It Positive
If you want your child to enjoy running, never make it feel like a negative activity. Don't push them beyond their limits. Don't make it about losing weight. Don't obsess over numbers. Don't compare them to other people. And never stop encouraging them. As they progress from running for play to running for sport, focus on what they do well. On days they don't do so well, tell them they did a great job anyway. If they want to improve on certain aspects of their run, find ways to help them.
Make Sure They Have the Right Gear
Making sure your kids are comfortable is also important, especially as they get older. That doesn't mean you need to run out and buy a closet full of running gear. Shorts and T-shirts are fine for beginners. Keep your climate in mind as well. Also, make sure they have a great pair of running shoes. ASICS makes kids' running shoes in all sizes, so have them try on a few pairs and see what fits best.
Run in Different Spaces
You may enjoy running on the treadmill or running around your neighbourhood, but be ready to switch things up to hold your kids' interest in the beginning. Consider taking some time to travel to local parks and trails. Find tracks, playgrounds, fields, and open spaces where you can run safely. Once your child starts to enjoy running, look into fun runs, 5ks, and other events in your community.
Look Into Running Programs
Consider looking into running programs for kids. Many primary, intermediate, and high schools offer them, as do some community centres. If you can't find one in your area, look online for some nationwide programs, like the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon. Participants are challenged to swim, bike, and run their way through the course.
Encourage Other Physical Activity Too
Running is a great activity for kids, but it shouldn't be their only form of exercise. There are a variety of aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activities, and bone-strengthening activities. This means that running isn't enough for optimal health. It's also important to note that kids at certain ages are prone to overuse injuries. That means that doing the same thing over and over again may do more harm than good. For this reason, it's best to encourage your kids to be active in general. Running is great, but encourage them to ride bikes, climb, jump, swim, and dance too.
It's also important to remember that just because you want your little one to become a runner, it doesn't mean they will. All of the encouragement in the world can't convince someone who doesn't like running. So, pay attention if they show interest in other sports. Maybe they want to play basketball or tennis. Maybe they want to take dance lessons or join the swim team. Any time your child shows an interest in physical activity, encourage them to go for it but don't put too much pressure on them if it doesn't work out.
If you're looking for opportunities to encourage your child's activeness, signing them up for the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon is a great way. We also recommend requesting to enlist your child's classroom in the Young & Healthy Virtual Adventure which uses technology to help encourage kids to stay active.
When shopping for shoes for your child, be sure to look for ones that will support and protect your little athlete's growing feet. Browse ASICS full range of kids shoes.
Learn more about shoes for kids and the features to look for in our Knowledge Base.