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Healthy Habits for Lifelong Running: Why kids should keep running.

It’s a challenge these days to get kids off their video game consoles and get them to slip on their sneakers to take a run – outside – yes, where trees and fresh air reside.

But running for kids is just as popular as it is for adults because of its accessibility, affordability and those wonderful feel-good endorphins that improve moods.

To no surprise, children’s activity levels dropped substantially during COVID-19, as kids turned to computers to play with their friends from Zoom playdates to watching movies together and playing video games.

But it’s a good time to get kids back outside and reignite the healthy habits that come with running for fun, and health.

“Running doesn’t have to be a solitary activity,” said Hoag Sports Medicine physician Jeremiah Ray. M.D. “Kids can join a running group in school, start a local club and bring people together for the team sports atmosphere children enjoy being a part of … a bit of competition and challenge works wonders for kids’ confidence.”

Dr. Ray said adults understand how exercise boosts mood, helps prevent injury and illness, improves sleep, keeps our muscles and bones strong, and protects our health in the future. This goes the same for children.

Kids should be active for at least 60 minutes a day, according to the National Health Services, to help develop their coordination, maintain a healthy body weight and improve fitness.

Running happens to be an ideal sport that can be done anytime, anywhere, and while many see it as a solitary activity, it doesn’t have to be! There are running groups that allow kids and their parents to join, find out if the schools offer a running club and check in with your city parks and recreation department and see if they have a track club for kids.

And let’s not forget the spirit of a marathon, 10ks, 5ks, the Turkey Dash’s and trots that make more room for pie, or the holiday runs that allow runners to wear their favorite ugly sweater along with hundreds of other runners who make the conscious decision to get up early on a weekend morning to run their hearts out and leave with a medal hanging around their neck.

Running is a sport for kids of all levels, not just for the fast, it’s about creating a routine, establishing it as a habit and discovering the joy of it.

And the best part? All you need is a pair of running shoes to get started.