Run With Me: Get Your Kids Up, Out, and On the Path to Fitness

Guest Post from Fitness Magazine


Make running fun for the whole family.

Running is great exercise for kids. “It burns calories, builds muscle and helps create a strong cardiovascular system,” says Don Kardong, an Olympic marathoner and co-author of Children’s Running: A Guide for Parents and Kids. Here’s how to start pounding the pavement as a family.

Provide a good example.

To inspire your children to put on their sneakers, be a running role model. Watching you and seeing the benefits of being fit will likely make them want to try it. Show kids how exhilarating running can be by taking them to a race or track meet. Once they’re ready to hit the road, ease them into it. “Start out slowly, build up gradually and allow kids to stop and rest anytime they want,” says Andrew Gregory, M.D., an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness.

Set fitness goals together.

As you run with your kids, teach them to set goals—and keep track of the miles and milestones they achieve. Start jogging together three or four days a week. To make it more challenging, gradually increase your total weekly mileage by 10 percent, says Joel Brenner, M.D., medical director of the sports medicine program at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Virginia.

Remember that kids’ abilities vary a lot, and their cartilage is more susceptible to injury, says Kardong. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, many experts agree that to run a mile a child should be at least in second grade. By fifth grade, children can do three miles. “If they run too intensely, kids often burn out,” Kardong explains. Keep it fun, and you’ll likely instill a lifelong love of fitness in your children.

Take steps to lower their risk of injury.

Keep your family fitness routine safe and fun with these tips.


©Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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