Get your kids walking and running

Get your kids walking and running

Author: Canadian Living


Get your kids walking and running

Watching television, playing video games and typing at the computer: If these are your children's ideas of extracurricular activities, they're choosing sedentary activities to take over their spare time. This could quickly lead to unhealthy habits that are hard to break.

How do you get your kids up and moving? Try something as simple as going for a walk or a run. Everyone can do it. Learning to run using a run/walk program allows everyone to progress safely and easily. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and a little motivation.

Reasons to take on a challenge
It was easy to get Canadian Living's Family Wellness Makeover participants Ria, 13, and Stefi, 10, going as they had a common goal: to take part in a triathlon camp in eight weeks. Ria also wanted to do better at a track and field event at school, which was only four weeks away. This was motivation enough to get moving.

Meeting once a week for a run/walk gave us a chance to talk about that week's progression and allowed me to help with form and technique.

Walk this way
The main technique tip I work on is relaxation and enjoying the run/walk. Concentrate on landing lightly from the heel of your foot to the front. Allow your body to move as freely as possible. Keep your eyes focused ahead, not down; run with good posture, aligning your head, shoulders and hips over your feet. Allow your arms to move freely just at your waistline. The arms naturally swing in front of you, but do not allow them to cross the midline of your chest. Your hands and wrists should be relaxed and loose. Cup the hands lightly as if you are carrying a fragile egg.

Page 1 of 2 – Get your kids excited about our 10-week walk and run program. Details on page 2.

Every breath you take
There are two basic rules for breathing. Your breath should be relaxed and from the belly. Your belly should expand as you inhale and flatten as you exhale.

Using proper form and technique helped Ria finish her 800m race without stopping or walking. This is something she has never done before. "Working on breathing properly and relaxing while running," says Ria, really helped with the race.

How often? How fast? How far?
You do not have to go out every day. Every other day may be best at the beginning. Take one to two days off each week.

Use the "talk test" to establish how fast you will be going. Run or walk slow enough to maintain a conversation and fast enough to produce perspiration. Running up hills will add stresses to your body so, beginners, design your courses to avoid hills. If you must include hills in your route, walk until you are strong enough to run on them.

Beginners should run or walk for minutes – not miles. A brisk 20-minute walk is a great place to start. Your goal is to build up to running for 20 minutes non-stop. You should be able to reach this goal in about 10 weeks with the program provided.

Be sure to warm up with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking and cool down with five to 10 minutes of slow walking. Your walk segments should be brisk and your run segments should be run at a conversational pace.

The 10-week run/walk program for kids:
Week Run/walk ratio (in minutes)
 1  Run 1, walk 2. Complete sequence 7 times.
 2  Run 2, walk 2. Complete sequence 5 times.
 3  Run 3, walk 2. Complete sequence 4 times.
 4  Run 5, walk 2. Complete sequence 3 times.
 5  Run 6, walk 1. Complete sequence 3 times.
 6  Run 8, walk 1. Complete sequence 2 times.
 7  Run 10, walk 1. Complete sequence 2 times.
 8  Run 12, walk 1, run 8.
 9  Run 15, walk 1, run 5.
 10  Run 20 minutes non-stop

Have fun
and enjoy the run!

Page 2 of 2 – Learn the proper techniques for walking and running for relaxation on page 1.


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Get your kids walking and running