Should Children Be Running For Anything Else But Play?

I don’t know about you but I love watching kids run around.  They are so full of life and energy and are just having the time of their lives.

They always seem to give all they’ve got when they play and then collapse in a heap on the ground, still laughing and smiling.

Children don’t know from exercise.

They don’t know its good for them or that physical exercise is necessary for good health.

With the growing rates of childhood obesity, there has been a global movement towards getting kids more active.

With that in mind, should kids be running for anything other reason than for playtime?

For adults, running is a very effective method to lose weight, improve cardiovascular function and manage stress.

Does the same apply for kids?

Should we just stick them on a treadmill and tell them to have at it?

The answer is both yes and no.

Kids can benefit from running just as much as adults can but within a different set of parameters.

Kids are not just miniature adults.  Their skeletal systems are still developing and running themselves ragged as adults do can have serious consequences on their future growth.

So what do we need to take into consideration when getting children outside to run?

(I did say outside. I say skip the treadmills for kids.  It’s not worth it.)

Since running is fairly inexpensive and doesn’t require fancy equipment other than an appropriate running shoe, the idea of kids running for health is an easy transition from running for play.

I say this because running is still play, regardless of the runner’s age.

Crazy thought?

If the runner is 12 or 92, the concept of running for fun, running as a part of playing should always be the backbone of the sport.

This will be critical for children.

Allow the child to run as far and as fast as they want.  Let them play and feel out their own body’s capabilities.

Guide them into correct form but allow them to find their own natural movement.

Teach them to relax into running and allow any tension or idea of forcing it to leave their minds.

Running, after all, is another form of play.

Guide them more carefully during the extremes of weather since the body of a child is less capable of cooling itself or of keeping itself warm for any extended period of time.

Teach them how to hydrate themselves properly and how to take care of themselves during a run.

And again, allow them to have fun and lead the pace, the distance and the mood of the run.

When they choose to stop, let them stop.  No pressure.  No disappointment for anyone.  Children can know their own boundaries with their bodies.

Teach them how to stretch, how to warm-up and cool-down.  Teach them how to know if their bodies need rest or time to recover.

Your job as the adult is to teach the good habits of healthy living to each child so that they can then grow into healthy, active adults.

We are not here to force exercise on anyone, but allow them to embrace it as a way of having fun, of playing with their friends and as a way to stretch their boundaries.

So, should children be running for anything else but play?

Absolutely, but play should still be a component of running no matter what the intended outcome is.

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