Running with the Kids

Strengthens Body, Mind and Family Spirit



Kzenon/Shutterstock.com

Combining regular exercise with quality family time can be an enjoyable and fun way to realize a healthier lifestyle. Running together in fresh air, preferably in natural settings, allows children as young as 5 to safely join in.

Physical and Emotional Perks

Families and coaches agree that running benefits both body and psyche. “Running as a family is an incredibly bonding experience, putting aside some of the usual conflicts and perceived hierarchies and just coming together,” says William Pullen, a London, England, psychotherapist and author of Running with Mindfulness: Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) to Improve Low-mood, Anxiety, Stress, and Depression. “Running also gives us a place where we can develop skills like building confidence and competency.”

Marc Bloom, of Princeton, New Jersey, author of Young Runners: The Complete Guide to Healthy Running for Kids From 5 to 18 and The Runner’s Bible, concurs, stating, “Running as a family can give parents the opportunity to be good role models by instilling values of health, fitness and togetherness.”

Experts emphasize the fun factor. Pullen encourages both parents and kids to get out of their heads and into their bodies. “Concentrating on breath, posture, sensation and location all help make running mindful,” he suggests.

“The important thing is to show up. It’s about participation, not breaking personal bests,” Pullen continues. Kids can play a game while running, such as silently counting steps, trees or other runners.” Mindfulness can also include sharing how it feels to run and meeting challenges along the way.

Bloom suggests tuning in to nature. “Being in beautiful surroundings or watching for animals can promote mindfulness,” he says. “It can be spiritual.”

Safe Start

For beginners, experts recommend approaching running as a desirable pastime and adopting a slow, easy pace. “Always make running fun, not a chore,” encourages Bloom. “Frame it as being outside, playing and sharing with friends and family. Make a game of it as much as possible.”

Whether a family chooses to run in the park or in a community race, experts stress the importance of not setting goals. “Make it pleasurable. Don’t worry about time and distance.  Start with short distances, maybe a block or two for novice runners or very young children,” advises running coach Jeremy Sanders, from Winchester, Virginia. “Be patient. Some days, the kids will get cramps. They may whine or get moody. Other days, they will be happy and content. Don’t let one bad run ruin the opportunity to try again another time.”

Running coaches and seasoned runners agree that it is wise to tailor runs according to age and fitness levels. “Kids can begin at school age, 5 or 6; but start them with a few minutes and then add more, up to 15 minutes to a half an hour or so a few days a week. Always mix in sprints for short attention spans. Keep it simple. No fancy running shoes are needed when starting, just regular sneakers,” advises Bloom. “For teens, 30 to 45 minutes at a time a few times a week is fine, provided that they have bona fide running shoes.”

Inspiration

Finding inspiration as a family can include running for worthy causes; most communities host charity runs. “This can become a focal point for getting in shape, raising money and running for the greater good, not just yourself,” says Bloom.  

Mindful running presents regular opportunities to explore new places, focus on details that often go unnoticed and make exercise an active meditation for all involved. “Show kids how to notice what is going on around them when they run,” suggests Pullen. “You can read up and educate yourselves on trees, geology or the change of seasons so they feel a powerful sense of connection and freedom.”

Whether running as a family is motivated by a desire to stay fit, get someplace or simply share more quality time, being in the present moment is most important. “Life is not about striving all the time,” exhorts Pullen. “Take the kids out. Keep it fun and make it into an adventure.”


Marlaina Donato is a freelance writer, author and multimedia artist. Connect at MarlainaDonato.com.

 

Breathing While Running

William Pullen: “Mindful breathing is simply making the observation of one’s breath being the priority over thoughts. Each time the mind interrupts, gently return to the breath. Learning how to do that gently is what it’s all about—it means letting go of forcing, wishing and striving—and just gently doing.”

Marc Bloom: “I’m not a fan of instructing young kids how to breathe while running because thinking about a must-do task can spoil the fun, and also seem like homework. Runners breathe naturally through their mouths, with an occasional deep breath through the nose. You can get technical with this, but not for kids. Be aware if breathing gets labored. If kids feel out of breath they’re probably running too fast. Kids love to start off fast, often too fast. Also, normal breathing might feel ‘out of breath’ and wrong to them because they’re not accustomed to it. Explain this to newbies beforehand by telling them what to expect.”

Jeremy Sanders: “Everyone is different. Your breathing changes with effort and the more you run, the more you learn what works for you. You can experiment by breathing through only your nose or only your mouth, or in combination, in through the nose and out through the mouth. You can also alter the number of steps between each breath to get a comfortable rhythm going.”


This article appears in the June 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

New Book Explains How Helping Wildlife Helps People

New Book Explains How Helping Wildlife Helps People

“Animals suffer as much as people, and helping them saves human lives and human suffering.”
Mindful Is the New Skinny Author Holds Book Signing

Mindful Is the New Skinny Author Holds Book Signing

June 26, at 7 p.m., at the Chappaqua Library
Famed Westchester Entrepreneur to Discuss “Tiny Business”

Famed Westchester Entrepreneur to Discuss “Tiny Business”

June 14, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Beahive Beacon
Investment Fund Helps Beginning Sustainable Farmers

Investment Fund Helps Beginning Sustainable Farmers

The fund gives sustainable farmers secure land access through lease-to-own arrangements on farm properties in the states connected to the NYC metropolitan area (the NY Foodshed).
Philanthropist Mike Hoffman Announces New Scholarship

Philanthropist Mike Hoffman Announces New Scholarship

Hoffman’s company provides fundraising, management and social engagement strategy to corporations and nonprofit organizations.
Boscobel Hosts Annual Snapping Turtles Event

Boscobel Hosts Annual Snapping Turtles Event

June 2, at 7:30 a.m.
Ascend Festival Launches in Cold Springs

Ascend Festival Launches in Cold Springs

June 21, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m
Candles and Wine Opens in Bedford Hills

Candles and Wine Opens in Bedford Hills

Grand opening June 13, at 6 p.m
Women’s Health and Fitness Center Opens in White Plains

Women’s Health and Fitness Center Opens in White Plains

The 15,000-square foot space offers classes and therapies to rejuvenate the mind and body, as well as a healthy gourmet café.
Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary Holds Open House

Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary Holds Open House

June 30, from noon to 2 p.m.
Get On Your Mat For Mental Health Returns to White Plains

Get On Your Mat For Mental Health Returns to White Plains

June 20, in downtown White Plains, on Court Street, between Main Street and Martine Avenue
Community Outreach Program Brings Solar Power to Area Congregations

Community Outreach Program Brings Solar Power to Area Congregations

Several HRP Presbyterian churches will be holding Solarize Our Congregation info sessions, which are open to members and friends of HRP Presbyterian congregations as well as members of the surrounding community.
Chiropractor Joins Breathe Network for Trauma Survivors

Chiropractor Joins Breathe Network for Trauma Survivors

Stern is trained to care for trauma survivors with conditions such as PTSD, anxiety and depression through the use of Network Spinal Analysis (NSA), chiropractic and other natural healing services to address a compromised nervous system.
New Creations Gift Shop Keeps It Local

New Creations Gift Shop Keeps It Local

Showcasing the talents of more than 50 local artists, authors, musicians and crafters.
Organic CBD Products Now at Custom Candle

Organic CBD Products Now at Custom Candle

Trying it as a sleep aid, she found that she could finally sleep through the night.
New Treatment Targets Lyme, Chronic Fatigue

New Treatment Targets Lyme, Chronic Fatigue

“The Perrin Technique may be a missing piece to the puzzle of how to treat these devastating diseases.”
InterGenerate Opens Community Garden in Mount Kisco

InterGenerate Opens Community Garden in Mount Kisco

“We are pleased to be moving from our former garden at Marsh Sanctuary to this much more central location."

June Gala to Support Inclusive, Nature-Based Education

June 2, from 7 to 10 p.m.
All-Natural Fizz Sticks Help Beat the Afternoon Slump

All-Natural Fizz Sticks Help Beat the Afternoon Slump

Arbonne has designed a vitamin-infused water mix-in intended to beat the afternoon slump.
Toner Is Vital to Skincare Routine

Toner Is Vital to Skincare Routine

“This one small step will go a long way to making a positive change in your skin."
Natural Ways to Protect Skin from Sun Damage

Natural Ways to Protect Skin from Sun Damage

Skin damage occurs when the sun’s rays activate enzymes that form free radicals, which in turn destroy the collagen and elastin that give skin its strength and rebound quality.
Benefits of Cosmetic Acupuncture More than Skin Deep

Benefits of Cosmetic Acupuncture More than Skin Deep

The state of physical health, emotions and spirit is reflected on the skin, particularly on the skin of the face.
Angel Aura Spiritual Boutique Opens in Pawling

Angel Aura Spiritual Boutique Opens in Pawling

The boutique also hosts workshops every Friday and Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and/or 7 to 9 p.m.
Poughkeepsie Author to Teach Angel Class

Poughkeepsie Author to Teach Angel Class

June 16, from 1 to 4 p.m and June 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m
Empowerment Expert Offers Book Signing, Workshop

Empowerment Expert Offers Book Signing, Workshop

May 5, from 4 to 5 p.m.
Living Juice Certified as Woman-Owned Business

Living Juice Certified as Woman-Owned Business

Founder Rosemary Devlin says Living Juice began with a mission to help people attain a lifestyle that is healthy, enriched and vibrant.
Westchester Land Trust Protects Rockefeller Property

Westchester Land Trust Protects Rockefeller Property

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently restricts a property’s development in order to protect its important conservation values.
Yards Should Welcome Mother Nature

Yards Should Welcome Mother Nature

Clean is nice indoors, but it’s not a concept that is recognized by the Earth.

Add your comment: