We always view children as so full of energy, since kids are always running instead of walking, skipping instead of running, etc. This is actually the best and most natural behavior for children, even though you may think they are putting themselves in danger. This will keep the child physically fit right now, plus lay a foundation for a lifetime of fitness as an adult. Unless your child is medically challenged, or if you see the danger in any of their exercises, let your child run to his or her heart’s content if you want to ensure a healthy future for your child.
As part of a fitness plan, you may want to establish guidelines for your child’s running. For example, you must realize that you have to set different goals for children than for adults since there are so many differences between children and adults. If your child is under the age of 14, this is even more important. It is very easy for a child to overdo exercise and injure himself if he tries to please you and/or keep up with you. A child’s abilities and endurance limits are different than yours.
A child should never go running alone. Even though this may seem like an unnecessary warning today, it needs to be mentioned. Many things happen to adults as well as to children if they are out alone, but children are more vulnerable. There is the threat of deviant adults, but in addition, a child may suffer from dehydration, fall and not be able to make it to safety, or get hit by a car. An adult is better equipped to care for himself if he finds himself in such a situation alone. When he or she goes running, always accompany your child.
The distance goal is another area that needs to be fine-tuned. Children should never be made to “push it to the limit”. The general rule of thumb is to keep the total mileage at under three miles, and this is calculating the round-trip distance, not a one-way venture. Going beyond that distance could cause damage to growing bones and joints.
Temperature plays an important role in a child’s endurance. When temperatures are extreme, it’s never a good idea to go running. In the intense heat, illnesses related to dehydration or sunstroke could be a factor and children have a greater sensitivity to heat than their adult counterparts. If the temperature is an issue, plan to take them running in the early morning or evening when the sun isn’t bearing down on them.
Water is the ideal beverage for quenching thirst and keeping the body hydrated. Don’t waste your money on sports drinks. Plain. old fashioned water is the best thing, and it’s free. The child should drink a glass of water 20 minutes before running, and bring water along for staying hydrated along the way. Do not allow your child to drink iced tea or other beverages that contain caffeine. Despite its refreshing qualities, the caffeine in iced tea speeds up the dehydration process. This can be especially dangerous for children whose smaller bodies lose water more quickly than adults’, and for girls, who risk bone damage when caffeine robs the bones of necessary calcium.
Make sure that both clothing and shoes are lightweight and light in color, as well. Socks should be worn, but again, they should be lightweight, in order to absorb the sweat from their feet, and on hot, sunny days, a hat should be part of their ensemble, as well. Since clothing that’s lighter in color will keep them cooler by reflecting the sun’s ray (not to mention, they’re better for visibility), then encourage white or pastel-colored attire.
Start slowly, is the last rule to follow. Children should not risk damaging bones by breaking into an all-out run in the very beginning. Your child will stay safe and benefit from his running program if you follow these rules, and keep him or her safe.