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Christine Luff

When Can Kids Start Running?

By September 15, 2009

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I frequently take my 2-year-old daughter and 9-month-old son on my runs -- in their jogging stroller, of course. But I'm looking forward to the day when they can actually run alongside me and we can all run races together.

So what's a safe age for kids to start running as a sport, rather than just bounding around the playground or backyard? If your child shows an interest in running, kindergarten is a good time to look for a youth running program or enter your child in a local kids' race (usually short distances of 100 – 400 meters).  If they're younger than that, they may not "get" the concept of running a race or have the attention span for doing a structured workout.

When you do sign your child up for a running program, just make sure it isn't too regimented or intense. The idea is for kids to get some exercise, have fun, and learn to love running.

If your child shows an interest in running before the age of five, you definitely don't want to discourage him or her. You can encourage her to run by playing tag, doing an obstacle course, even chasing after the dog -- as long as it doesn't feel like a formal, structured program.


Photo by Alistair Berg/Getty Images

September 15, 2009 at 4:36 pm
(1) Rachel says:

Yeah it’s probably safe to start them off slowly. They have their whole lives to run, ya know?

If you wanna read some more about child safety, you should check out this blog :)


September 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm
(2) Jane says:

It isn’t hard to take things at the right pace for the kids. When they are very little, we should all be playing active games with them, and taking them out – small children will run as often as they get the opportunity. If they still enjoy it when they get bigger, get them involved – my kids go along to support me and their dad and each other in races. Then they want to come along on training runs, so they join in on a warm-up lap of the block and think they won a race against dad.

By the time they are about 7, local athletics clubs have some sort of provision. Our club has lots of groups – for keen and competetive athletes as well as ‘social’ runners aged 7, who come along in order to play running games with friends.

There are lots of races around with ‘fun runs’ (just don’t tell my 10 year old it’s called that!) for juniors, and they can take it seriously, or just relax and enjoy it.

If they enjoy it, they’ll continue to take part at their own level and appreciate the health and fitness benefits over time.

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