Lets go for a Run!
Created by Tanuja Sodhi Updated on Dec 19, 2012
Someone has aptly said- “We don’t need a reason, we need a road.”
What’s common between outdoor activities such as nature walks, cycling and running? ---It’s the ‘road’.
Amazingly, a mere stretch of road in your vicinity can help your child to enliven, rejuvenate and keep fit, but also help in myriad other ways that may never strike you normally.
Some of the benefits of these activities are:
1. Physical development: Kids who put in an hour of outdoor play every day are more energetic and fitter than those who don’t. Their metabolism is higher and they end up burning more calories and strengthening muscles. Outdoor play also increases flexibility, sense of balance and gross motor skills.
2. Social development: Outdoor play also promotes social interaction and teamwork. Kids have more opportunities to interact with each other without even realizing that they are socializing.
3. Stress reduction and increase in confidence: Regular exposure to sunlight calms one down and reduces stress. Teacher and child advocate Leslie Gilbert-Lurie in her article "10 Ways to minimize your Child's Stress" advises parents that outdoor physical activity helps children reduce stress and strike a balance between body and mind. It also helps develop a sense of confidence and a sense of wonder in the world around them.
4. Development of perceptual abilities: These are abilities such as smell, hearing and touch. By touching the leaves, smelling a fragrant flower, listening to the singing birds the children not only hone their senses, but it also fosters their imagination and creativity.
5. ADHD control: Outdoors play is known to help the kids to develop self-control and improve health conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Notice the glint of glee in the young eyes when you leave them on a wide and uncluttered road. In normal circumstances, they would thrive on the freedom given to them by way of running, cycling, playing or just looking around and discovering the wide world outside their homes. Children are naturally drawn to active play outdoors.
So, take time to incorporate more outdoor activity into your family life. This can be easily accomplished if you as a parent can keep the following pointers in mind:
• You might want to schedule some family time each week to enjoy the outdoors.
• Making this an important family routine and committing to it also helps.
• Use the time to encourage your child to be outdoors and explore the environment.
• You may want to make family vacations more outdoors oriented, where you go bike riding, running, trekking and hiking.
Children who learn to love outdoor physical activities carry these healthy interests into adulthood. As adults, they stay fit and continue to lessen their chances of serious illnesses.
Keeping these benefits in mind, I shall unravel the marvels of each of the 3 activities, namely, running, cycling and nature walks.
“Running: If there's any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can't think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.”
-Joyce Carol Oates
It has aptly been said that parents spend the first year of their children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk, only to spend the following years pleading with kids to keep quiet and stop running in the house. It’s a joy to watch my two year old nephew run in the house incessantly all through his waking hours, and try catching him if you can! There is sheer glee on his face and a twinkle in his eyes. So, running is a natural and instinctive activity for the child, which requires no training as they are just born with the instinct to run. Running is one of the activities that a parent and child can actually do together for a very long time, even after the parents cannot keep up with their children anymore.
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider running as a regular family activity:
• Running is one of the very few types of exercises you can regularly do with your children, since all it requires, is a stretch of road.
• Running doesn't have any age limit. A runner girl will very likely become a mom-runner and could even become a granny-runner. This truly describes my own case. Being an avid runner, I initiated my son into running at an early age. Now we bond over long distance runs and I’m looking forward to being a granny-runner some day.
• Running is the cheapest sport available. You don’t need any fancy equipment. All you need is a pair of good shoes which needn’t be very expensive.
• Running doesn't require special training. At the outset of a regular running schedule, a few lessons with a professional about how to reduce your risk of injuries while running may be all that you need.
• Running qualifies as a life sport. 101 year old Fauja Singh has run several marathons, and is still going strong. He ran his last Marathon in 2011.
Health benefits of running:
1. Keeps the heart healthy: Running is one of the best ways to give your heart muscle an effective workout. It improves circulation and reduces the risk of heart ailments when children grow into adults.
2. Helps maintain healthy weight and keeps obesity at bay: Running is a high intensity cardiovascular exercise that keeps the body weight under check by expending adequate energy.
3. Increases physical strength: Regular running builds strength in the lower body, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
4. It reduces mental stress and is a mood-lifter: A regular running habit of a child is a great mood enhancer; it builds self-esteem and increases self-confidence.
5. Revs up the immune system: Runners enjoy a stronger immune system as compared to non-active children and adults. This means that your child will suffer less from minor illnesses such as colds, allergies, fatigue and digestive disorders.
6. Boosts brainpower: Running boosts blood flow to the brain and helps the brain receive oxygen and nutrients, thus increasing mental functions like mental acuity.
Therefore, engaging children in running is fun for the whole family, and parents should take advantage of their children’s natural willingness to run for its myriad benefits.
Image source - www.shutterstock.com
| Dec 20, 2012
I feel great when my preteen comes and tells me he is going for a run.
| Dec 20, 2012
It is very important to stay fit and follow a regime, be it going to the gym, aerobics or just walking and running. I am a big fan of brisk walking and jogging. The health benefits attached with such activities are numerous. Thank you Tanuja for such an informative blog.
| Dec 20, 2012
I go for late evening walks with my child, its a great chance to catch up and he tends to share thoughts that we normally dont get time to speak about.. at other times, I would walk and he would cycle. And then , he likes to go alone sometimes, for walks and cycling rounds, it seems our growing kids also seek some me time!