Running events have become popular as a health and fitness activity for the entire family. This also means that more children are getting involved in organized running events. Their involvement of course is often encouraged by their parents most of the time with parents participating in the event themselves.
All of that is well and good but there are times when parents become a little too ambitious. A few parents even bring their kids along to run in adult type running events like marathons. In such scenarios the intent is good but the results may not be in favor of the children.
The points mentioned in this family fitness fun run guidecan help parents decide which events are appropriate for their children to participate in. Some of the recommendations mentioned below come from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The Reasons behind the Precautions
Children are excluded (and they should be) from extreme running competitions especially marathons. There is good reason why children should be left out of the highly competitive running events. The main reason is that their health is at risk during such events.
A few years back, the American Academy of Pediatricsissued a statement that pointed out health risks for children joining extremely competitive running events. It states that children may experience micro trauma that can affect a child’s long bones;specifically the bone’s growth centers.
That is but one of the reasons for their objection.Children are at a high risk for heat stress. Children do not dissipate heat as well as adults can. They can build up body heat really fast and are more susceptible to it than their parents.
Note that a child’s ability to utilize oxygen is really low compared to adults. They also tend to perspire less. These and other health risks should be enough to convince anyone that highly competitive running events are not for children.
Ideas and Considerations
Here are a few things you should consider when organizing or selecting a running event for your kids. Organizers and parents should consider a child’s
physical, emotional, and intellectual needs. The competitive aspects are gone for now.
When considering the emotional and social aspects of any health and fitness activity, organizers should emphasize team effort instead of individual competition. This makes the activity more fun for the children.
Make sure that entrance fees and other regulations should not be too prohibitive. Children should be given enough leeway in case they want to participate in the sporting event.
Adults should be present and available to all participants during the entire event. The course should be absolutely free of vehicular traffic. There should be no obstacles in the way of the children.
When designing race courses for children ensure that the course is flat. They should be no longer than one or two miles.The race should be held during the cooler times within the day. The entire course should have an appropriate amount of shade and protection from the sun and heat.
Kids should be required to drink the appropriate amount of fluids (about eight to 12 ounces will do). Children should be drinking liquids prior to the start of the race.
Children should be educated in proper running techniques, proper hydration, and the right warm up prior to allowing them to participate in the race.Prizes can also be individualized and they should reflect appropriate standards for children who participate in health and fitness activities.