Here is a scary statistic: the CDC reports that approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. That’s triple the rate of previous generations! Most experts agree that a combination of poor diets and increasingly sedentary lifestyles (children 8—18 spend 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media) are the main causes of childhood obesity. However, childhood obesity, unlike many other health issues, is practically 100% preventable! The CDC recommends that children get at least 60 minutes of aerobic activity each day, and there is practically no easier way than to get great aerobic exercise than with running!
Here are a few ways you can get your child interested in running:
1. Run with them!
Not only is this a good safety precaution, everyone loves a running buddy (and it’s a good way to get in your own daily exercise.) Most kids aren’t going to willingly go out for a jog around the block by themselves, so by running with them you can help keep them motivated. You could even have a little 1-on-1 race on the way home!
2. Sign them up for a road race.
Most kids’ races are relatively short (a few miles at most) and there are usually all kinds of prizes for the finishers including t-shirts, medals or trophies and other souvenirs. A road race turns running from a boring exercise into a fun game! Some organized adult races have a “family race” option, so you can get everyone up and running.
If you live in the Albany, New York area and are looking for a road race for your child, check out the Freihofer’s Junior 3K Run!
3. Find new places to run.
Running the same circuit over and over can get boring for serious adult runners, so what do you think is going to happen to your child? Change things up by trying out new running paths each week. Are there any biking or hiking trails you could check out? Parks, community gardens, beaches and riverfronts are all great places to go for a run!
4. Sign them up for a youth running program.
Running doesn’t have to be an individual activity. Chances are your community sports organization has a youth running program (and maybe even an adult version for you) that your child could join. This gives them the chance to make new friends AND get lots of great exercise. Running clubs are also a great alternative if competitive youth sports like baseball or football aren’t the best fit for your child.