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

Holistic Skin Care Studio opens in Fishkill

Holistic Skin Care Studio opens in Fishkill

Offers an alternative to commercial spa services
‘The BloodDetective’ Opens Katonah Office

‘The BloodDetective’ Opens Katonah Office

Grand opening event at the new office will be on October 26, from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Local Group Hosts Alexander Technique Week Events

Local Group Hosts Alexander Technique Week Events

The method teaches awareness of one’s postural habits and how one responds to stimuli, she says, and it enhances mobility, poise and performance while reducing stress and tension.
Bedford Hills Wine and Beer Bar Hosts CBD Talk

Bedford Hills Wine and Beer Bar Hosts CBD Talk

October 9 at 6 p.m.
Tai Chi Studio Now Open in Brewster

Tai Chi Studio Now Open in Brewster

By combining slow, controlled breathing and gentle stretching movements, tai chi creates harmony between the body, mind and spirit.
Lisanne Elkins Introduces ‘Scalp and Sole’ Treatment

Lisanne Elkins Introduces ‘Scalp and Sole’ Treatment

Focuses solely on the feet and head and borrows techniques from Asian disciplines.
Xeno-Estrogens Promote Breast Cancer

Xeno-Estrogens Promote Breast Cancer

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one out of eight American women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.
Stressed? Try Jin Shin Do Acupressure

Stressed? Try Jin Shin Do Acupressure

Jin Shin Do (JSD) is a form of clothes-on bodywork based on the energy system discovered and developed thousands of years ago by Taoist monks in China.
Putnam Valley Hosts Annual Psychic Fair

Putnam Valley Hosts Annual Psychic Fair

October 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To Break Addiction, Fill the Void

To Break Addiction, Fill the Void

“Addiction has its roots in feeling the need to find balance, to seek peace, comfort or excitement that somehow isn't present in a life."
Heart Songs: An Evening Of Chanting and Sacred Music

Heart Songs: An Evening Of Chanting and Sacred Music

October 13, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Susan Adler Adds Reflexology to Massage Practice

Susan Adler Adds Reflexology to Massage Practice

“Reflexology is based on the premise that the foot is a map of the whole body, where specific areas on the foot correspond to different organs, glands and body systems.”
‘Medical Medium’ Publishes Liver Rescue

‘Medical Medium’ Publishes Liver Rescue

It provides answers to a number of health conditions, from eczema and acne to diabetes and autoimmune disease.
Heeding the Warning Light

Heeding the Warning Light

Taking a pain reliever doesn’t fix the problem; it just covers it up.
Heritage Applefest in Garrison

Heritage Applefest in Garrison

October 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Festival Benefits Families in Medical Crisis

This family-friendly event will include a 10:30 a.m. fun walk (9:30 a.m. registration), hayrides, a pumpkin patch, touch-a-truck and local vendors.
Avoid Toxin Risk with Mercury-Free Dentistry

Avoid Toxin Risk with Mercury-Free Dentistry

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can produce symptoms identical to those of neurologic and autoimmune disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
We Can Regain Lost Balance

We Can Regain Lost Balance

Roffman helps people improve their balance with a progressive, challenging fitness program designed to engage and strengthen the brain and body simultaneously.
Alleviating a Different Kind of Stress

Alleviating a Different Kind of Stress

“Geopathic stress” describes the negative energies emanating from the earth that cause discomfort and disease to those living above them.

Nonprofit Integrates Learning and Nature

The organization operates out of Kitchawan Farm, offering a variety of nature-based programs—including summer workshops, after-school classes and homeschool programs—focused on community service, civics and global environmental issues.
Network Spinal Analysis Presentation in Mount Kisco

Network Spinal Analysis Presentation in Mount Kisco

October 27, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Farm-Raised Heritage Turkeys Available at Harvest Moon

Farm-Raised Heritage Turkeys Available at Harvest Moon

The turkeys are antibiotic and hormone free and pasture raised, spending their entire lives outdoors.
Family-Friendly Fall Farm Fest in Ossining

Family-Friendly Fall Farm Fest in Ossining

September 23, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Nutritionist Linda Lonergan Hosts Local TV Show

Nutritionist Linda Lonergan Hosts Local TV Show

Wednesday mornings at 8:30 on Comcast public access channel 8.
Melanie Ryan Teaches Shamanic Reiki Training

Melanie Ryan Teaches Shamanic Reiki Training

September 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Craniosacral Therapy Workshop Offered in Mount Kisco

Craniosacral Therapy Workshop Offered in Mount Kisco

September 15, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Sarah Montgomery Launches Home Physical Therapy Service

Sarah Montgomery Launches Home Physical Therapy Service

“I’m passionate about helping people experience improved quality of life in whatever form that takes for them."
New Wellness Center Opens in Mamaroneck

New Wellness Center Opens in Mamaroneck

It will feature a series of rooms designed to facilitate meditation, health and healing.

Add your comment: