When Can Children Start Running?

23rd September 2019
Many children watch their parents playing sports and want to follow in their footsteps from an early age. But when is it advisable for a child to start running?

“Running fever” doesn’t apply to only adults. More and more parents are consulting with pediatricians about when children can start running. So, in the following article, we’ll discuss this question in search of an answer.

When can children start running?

There’s no doubt that children copy everything they see their elders do, especially their parents. Therefore, if adults at home are athletes, their children will likely become athletes too. This is a passion that can start from a very early age.

Perhaps once a child has noticed that his or her parent goes running in the park, the child wants to accompany them. That’s why it’s essential for adults to be prepared to introduce their child to this activity (as with others).

How to plan an afternoon of running with a child

For a child, exercise must be a game, not a pressure or a reason to feel valued. It’s easier for us to start running if we aren’t forced to do it. Let them do it their own way rather than pushing them towards it.

If we decide to go jogging with our children, right off the bat, we should always remember that they won’t be able to maintain our pace. We’ll be the ones that’ll have to wait for them and reduce our speed. It shouldn’t be taken as a training session but just as fun. Afterward, it’ll be possible for them to run alone and according to their own abilities.

It’s good that infants receive positive feedback from their parents, who’ll have to understand that they aren’t adults in little bodies. They have special characteristics to take into account.

Track: when can children start running?

Parents must be understanding and responsible at all times so that the child who wants to start running doesn’t feel pressured or obliged to keep up with the adults.

Among the benefits of running for children, we can highlight that it strengthens their bones, improves their glucose control, prevents childhood obesity, reduces hyperactivity, and stimulates the heart and respiratory rhythm. In turn, they’ll have more agility, coordination, and balance. It’ll also help them control their emotions.

At what age can children start running?

The little ones can run, but not professionally, their skills and age must always be always taken into account. Exercise mustn’t interfere with their natural growth or development.

Keep in mind that children under five years old shouldn’t do any specific training; this includes running. They must wait until their body is mature enough.

Although children are more flexible, they’ll be more likely to suffer injuries. Besides, they are not yet mentally prepared yet to follow precise instructions to perform specific and complicated movements.

After the age of five, pediatricians indicate that children already have the ability to start running at a cognitive and physical level. But be careful, because they’re still too young to train professionally.

Playing to stimulate physical activity

If we want our kids to be excellent runners, the best thing we can do at this stage is to introduce them to running by playing typical games at home or in the park. The goal isn’t to teach them techniques, but to strengthen their legs and to develop their resistance capacity without them realizing it. The best way to learn is by playing!

Once the child is eight years old, he or she is likely  to start running to eliminate energy. At that age, children have a better understanding of their bodies and the surrounding space. It’s good to know that, at that age, children still can’t measure their own strength and may become tired of trying too hard.

When children can start running

An excellent way to introduce children to the world of running at this stage is to go jogging with them. But you must always thinking about their individual abilities.

Once children turn 12,  pediatricians recommend that they start running regularly. They can even sign up for one to three-mile city races on sidewalks (it’s not recommendable to run on other surfaces yet).

For parents, it’s very important to leave our expectations aside and not impose them on our children’s sports activity. This doesn’t mean not supporting or accompanying them, but avoiding certain comments or pressures that can prevent children from enjoying what they’re doing.

If we realize that our child was born to be a runner, then we can start professional training with them once they turn 12 years old.

  • Martínez-Vizcaíno, V., & Sánchez-López, M. (2008). Relación entre actividad física y condición física en niños y adolescentes. Revista Española de Cardiología. https://doi.org/10.1157/13116196