Love Kids, Love Running…Love Kids Running!

Love Kids, Love Running…Love Kids Running!

By Heidi Langan. Heidi is a fitness instructor and running coach. In addition to private coaching she works with the Race4Chase Triathlon program. More information on Heidi Langan can be found at her website: www.h4fitness.com.

I recently just started another group training for a 5K race. I can’t remember how many groups I have coached over the years but this is definitely one of the best. Why? Because the athletes are all kids.

I train from ages 7 and up, this particular group cuts off at age 14…really a great window to lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle and establish the foundation to a lifelong love of running. Kids this age need physical activity to build strength, coordination and confidence.

The benefits of running are endless, here are a few of my favs…

kidsrunclubheidiChildren are under so many more stresses at earlier ages now, suicide rate is at an all time high in the younger generations, they need an outlet and running can provide just that. It has been proven that running can decrease depression and anxiety. Recess is limited, kids are addicted to video games, phones and other mind sucking non physical activities…they need fresh air and exercise. Without getting too scientific, exercise improves mood through increasing brain serotonin levels, the optimal amount of exercise needed to enhance serotonin synthesis in the brain is 3 hours weekly or 30 minutes most days of the week.

Children with attention deficits can especially benefit greatly from running, research has shown that it can enhance cognitive performance and brain function. Exercise also leads to better sleep, which in turn can also reduce symptoms of ADD/ADHD.

Children who start exercising at a young age will find that their aerobic conditioning on the field or court will be superior to their peers who are not so physically active. Both speed and agility are key to core development which is necessary for most sports and by starting early, running ensures that a fitness routine is followed later in life.

Most of all, Running is FUN!! We play games every night during our training…most of the time the kids don’t even realize that they are training! All basics are covered, endurance, hills and speedwork are all incorporated in the form of play. Some of our games are competitive within the group but mostly I coach to only compete against yourself. Some children will find that they want to run seriously and actually compete later for their schools or clubs, some will grow up to be adults who hopefully share their love of running to their own kids!

heidikidstrophiesIt is easy to learn, habits are much harder to break when you have been repeating them for many years! We work a lot on form, breathing and the ‘why’s’ behind warm ups and cool downs. Because most of our training is outside on local trails, we also talk about our surroundings, it raises interest in the environment which is another very important factor in todays youth. We also learn about the importance of hydration and fueling our bodies.

Kids who are active will have stronger muscles and bones, leaner bodies because body fat is controlled, have a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, possibly lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and just have a better outlook on life.

When they are not with me, running is an activity that the whole family can get on board with. It’s a great way to be outdoors together and what better way than an organized themed run! Probably my favorite things about my kids groups is their boost in confidence and the team camaraderie that’s created.