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Why Kids Should Run

Children who exercise and play outdoors reap a multitude of physical and mental health benefits – so get them running!

by / Published: 4 Apr 2018

Why Kids Should Run
Photo: iStockphoto

Encouraging your child to go out and play is very important as physical activity is great for cognitive, social and mental development. Running is the ideal type of exercise for families as it’s fun, cost effective and can be done anywhere, even on holiday. Children are naturally inclined to run during play, so parents should channel this energy towards sports. Besides, running is one of the easiest to get started on.

Happy Kid, Happy Parents
The best part of running is that it gives the child a sense of purpose and boosts their self-esteem and confidence. Remember the feeling of acing a test or beating your sibling in a game? Our body releases endorphins (hormones secreted within the brain that make you feel happy) when running and this, coupled with the joy of being outdoors and the thrill of finishing a run, is a recipe for success.

Peak Form
Children who start exercising at a young age will find that their aerobic conditioning on the field or court will be superior to their friends who are physically inactive. Speed and agility is highly instrumental to core strength development which is necessary especially for sports like football, rugby, tennis, gymnastics and swimming. By starting early, running ensures that a fitness routine is followed later in life, which is important for longevity and overall health.

Family Fun
The best part of running is that the whole family can get involved and organised themed runs are the ideal event to participate in. Although it’s great to be motivated by competition, running as a family should be fun and a way for parents to introduce their children to the great outdoors and encourage young minds to see that there’s so much more than being glued to electronic devices!

Fun And Games
Think about all the times you were playing games like capture the flag, Red Rover or British Bulldog. What do they all have in common? They’re competitive, fun, boisterous games that all involve running! Eventually some children will find they want to run seriously and all those years of fun and games lead them to actually competing seriously for their school or club. These children then grow up to be adults who hopefully impart their love of running to their own kids.

Tips For Children
Running is an easy sport to pick up but children should still have guidance and training to get a better grasp of their capabilities. Here are a few simple guidelines:

  1. Ensure the child is well hydrated and doesn’t have carbonated or caffeine-based drinks prior to running.
  2. Warm up before and cool down after a run.
  3. Plan breaks between distances for younger or novice runners.
  4. Continuously reinforce improved skills.
  5. Monitor the track or route your child is running.
  6. It's recommended that children aged four to six run between 50m to 1km, aged five to nine up to 5km, aged 10 to 13 up to 10km, and aged 14 and above up to 21km.
  7. It’s advisable for children to join a running group as it’s more fun and being with peers is a great motivator.

The best way to ensure your children pick up running is by setting a good example through a healthy lifestyle. Create the time to exercise with your children and always be encouraging of their efforts. As cliché as it sounds, a family that runs together, stays together!

Family-Friendly Running Trails

  • Bako National Park, Sarawak – A park with extensive rainforest trails
  • Putrajaya Lake, Putrajaya – 10km of trails with views of the lake
  • Taiping Lake Garden, Perak – One of the oldest parks in the country with easy trails
  • Penang Botanical Gardens, Penang – Trails to suit levels all hikers and runners
  • Hutan Bandar Johor Bahru, Johor – 50 acres of lush greenery
  • KLCC Park, Kuala Lumpur – An eco-friendly park right in the heart of the city.

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