Running: Something the Entire Family Can Do Together
Apr 24, 2020
As the weather warms up, many people are looking for a safe and fun way to stay healthy as a family. Running is a great activity that can be done with minimal equipment and is something that all ages can perform. However, this may not always look the same for everyone as age, strength and body type may differ.
Some great ways to get younger children involved in running is through games that can keep their attention such as tag or “Red Light, Green Light.” When playing tag as a family, make sure you are in a safe, open space and each family member can run at their own pace. “Red Light, Green Light” is a great game to play when you have multiple children running toward a common object. It also builds great listening skills and patience as children listen for directions and wait for cues to move forward.
As we grow, many people run as a way to engage in regular physical activity. As our bones and muscles grow, we are able to run faster and longer distances, but for someone who is just getting started it can be challenging to know how fast or how long to run.
Have your children begin with a combination of walking and jogging, such as jogging for one minute followed by a couple of minutes of walking until ready to run again. This can be repeated multiple times depending on endurance and fitness levels. Time spent running can be increased as your child gets stronger. Doing this allows the body to adapt to the great changes that running can bring such as improved strength, improved endurance and improved self-esteem.
For high school athletes, running is a great way to stay healthy and fit. Even during off-season or downtime, for sports such as soccer, crew, field hockey, or lacrosse, longer periods of running or jogging can be used to maintain the endurance needed to stay active on the field or in the boat for longer durations. For other sports such as football, baseball, softball, or basketball, a combination of sprinting and jogging such as 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off can be used to maintain the speed needed for quick plays.
Starting something new often comes with the challenge of maintaining motivation. In order to set yourself and your family up for running success, create a support system and set manageable, realistic goals. A great way to create a support system in running is by going for a run together as a family. You can also run at the same time and location if running abilities are at different levels.
Goal setting is also something that can be done as a family; start by setting a goal of going to the park to run one time each week. Goals like these can be increased as family’s abilities and time allow. It can also help everyone participating feel success with this new, fun activity!
Meghan Cass, PT, DPT, completed her doctorate of physical therapy at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Meghan moved to Columbus to complete Nationwide Children's Sports Physical Therapy Orthopedic residency.
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