Answering Your Questions About Kids Running

Feb 15, 2022 | Children's Health

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If your child likes to run around outside is it a good idea for running to become their primary exercise?

Because running seems like an intense form of physical activity, it’s normal for parents to wonder whether it’s OK for their kids to run. Here are answers to some common questions about kids and exercise, including running.

How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?

You probably know that experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. That’s a little more than 20 minutes per day.

That level of exercise can help adults stay healthy. But kids need more exercise as they grow and develop. In fact, even infants need some level of physical activity in their days.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants get at least 30 minutes of “tummy time,” and that kids between ages 3 and 5 be actively moving around for about 15 minutes of each hour they’re awake. Children ages 6 and older need 60 minutes of moderate activity per day.

What Kind of Exercise Is Best for Kids?

The short answer is: the kind of exercise that gets them moving. Only about one-quarter of American children are physically active, a fact that contributes to increasing levels of obesity and serious medical issues among our kids.

While many adults get their physical activity through workout sessions in the gym or exercise classes, children don’t need to participate in formal activities to be physically active. They simply need to move more.

The trick is to find an activity that your kids actually enjoy and will want to continue doing. That can come in the form of participating in a sport, or they may simply move their bodies while playing a game, dancing, swinging or even jumping around.

Is Kids Running Safe and Healthy?

Yes! If your child loves to run, it’s absolutely a healthy way to be physically active. It’s important to note, though, that running can be associated with overuse injuries, even in adults.

If your child wants to run, encourage it. But limit those runs to a reasonable distance that’s specific to your child’s age to avoid injuries.

Kids younger than age 9 should run only 1.5 miles maximum in a day, while those ages 9 to 11 can run the equivalent of a 5k race (3.2 miles). As children get older, this maximum distance can gradually increase.

It’s also important for kids to stretch before and after a run, to wear well-fitting running shoes, to have rest days in between runs, and to stop running if it becomes painful.

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