Easy ways to encourage kids to get active
The Vitality Westminster Mile is open to all ages and abilities, making it the perfect for introducing children to the joy of being active and participating in a mass event. However, just as you need to teach children to walk before they run, they should learn to run before they race! Luckily, kids love running! Whether it’s across the playground, round the garden or up the stairs, it’s what they do best.
Running in an organised event, though, is a different story, and you may face some stiff opposition to the idea of ‘going for a run’. To win children round, let them take the lead and make sure their running continues to be associated with fun. Speaking of which...
Make running fun for kids
Children run everywhere because they have energy to burn, but also because walking just isn’t as exciting. To introduce children to the concept of running as an activity in its own right, it’s crucial that they don’t lose sight of that element of fun. That might mean setting small (and achievable) challenges while you’re out – like racing to the next lamppost or running to the top of the hill – or using each run as a chance to explore...
Discover new places when running
Rather than plodding around the same old route (which is boring enough for adults, let alone children), use your time spent running as an opportunity to explore different areas, or reach different landmarks. Let children take the lead – within reason – and the act of running will soon be seen as a rewarding experience.
Take to the trail
Off-road running offers more variety and opportunities for adventure than running on the road. It’s important to have a route planned out, and to take some provisions like water and a few snacks with you, but that extra amount of planning will be worth it when children are introduced to the scenery and wildlife you can experience when running on trails.
Let children set the pace
While some children possess unique endurance abilities, for most – especially those younger than eight years old – the word ‘pacing’ just doesn’t compute. If a child can run for no more than 10 seconds at a time, let them stick to whatever strategy they’re most comfortable with. The goal, at this age and ability, should be to allow them to find the joy in running on their terms.
Do The Daily Mile
The Daily Mile is an initiative that aims to get all primary schoolchildren jogging or running one mile every day. It’s not about running quickly, the goal is simply to complete 15 minutes – or however long it takes – of exercise, with a few walking breaks if required.
As well as the obvious exercise benefits of regular exercise, research published in the journal Plos One also found that The Daily Mile has ‘the acute benefit of refocusing and re-energising the children.’ To find out more, head to thedailymile.co.uk
Check out your local junior parkrun
Following the huge success of parkrun – free, weekly 5K events across the country and around the world – junior parkrun is proving every bit as popular. Taking place on the same morning as parkrun, the shorter, 2K events are aimed at children between the ages of four and 14. Ahead of the Vitality Westminster Mile, it is the perfect way to introduce children to group running, in an atmosphere that’s fun, friendly and non-competitive. Find your local parkrun at parkrun.org.uk