pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

Children Jogging With Parents

[An active mother wonders about the propriety of taking her children jogging with her.]

(The actual question has been lost but involved a mother who wondered about the implications of taking her children jogging with her.)
I think you may have stumbled on an excellent way to not only maintain fitness but to “hook” your child on doing some “sweating” before she/he enters the “black hole” of adolescence where almost nothing seems “fun.”

Stretching is probably even more important in a child than in an adult although it’s very important there too. You say you keep your fluids up – which is good – remember, if you “feel” thirsty you are already behind in fluids; and, good nutrition is MUCH better than sugar based drinks.

The actual episode of running must take into consideration the temperature, humidity and the child’s current health. Modify either the intensity, duration or location (i.e. inside) when any of the parameters become troublesome. And of course there is no point running injured or ill.

With that said, a mile shouldn’t be problematic for either child you mention – although the pace and duration could be vastly different. The more runners that get involved the more complicated it is to keep everyone happy and challenged. I used to run a “couple of times around” fast then be joined by a “grandson” when I was ready to go at his pace for a few more – believe me that disparity doesn’t last for very long in a parents life. A younger child could ride their bicycle along with you.

Be very watchful of the condition of the children’s feet, ankles, muscles and overall condition. Children with Pes Valgo Planus (flat feet) or tibial torsion’s (turned in or out) oftentimes get “tired” or “sore” more quickly (see my other articles) and should be managed before they just “give up” on exercise.

Good fitting shoes with over the ankle support should be used, especially on anything but flat level terrain. Once injured it is very difficult to regain function and conditioning in the ankle. And if multiply injured it is nearly impossible to regain the “tightness” of the joint.

Now, after all is said and done, always keep in mind that the activity is merely a means to an end. It does take a bit of thought and effort to positively “cajole” and “encourage” children through the difficulties and to know when it has become “nagging” and “pushing.” AND to figure out how to “mix it up” and keep it interesting THROUGH their normal lapses in interest.

Younger children usually respond to parental attention and model their behavior on what they SEE YOU DO.

– If they see you warming up,
– if they see you rearranging other things so you can keep your appointment with your exercise,
– if they see you doing it even when you don’t feel like it,
– if they see you talking about positive results you feel,
– if they see you changing the venue when you get bored instead of quitting,
– if they … (well you know what I mean, don’t you?)

As the child gets older they can respond to WHAT YOU SAY. Providing reading and extra instruction sometimes helps them exceed even your own abilities. Rewards can be (and probably should be) more delayed, intermittent and abstract. But it’s always wise to point out their own internal benefits. Before and after charts and/or photos are very revealing, often helpful and very motivating.

Then, even older still, the adolescent needs to be instructed that IT’S THEIR OWN JOB to take charge and “turn into” a person who can accomplish their goals. They should not be afraid of discovering their own weaknesses and shortcomings so they can ameliorate them.

They should realize that they should be making provisions for, and progress in, EVERY area of their life; namely, social, education, vocation AND health should ALL have a “daily entry” in their student day-planners. To help them, YOU should “interview” them frequently to help them see their progress and direction in all four of the areas – including “health” (i.e. exercise).

When they progress from adolescence to adulthood they should be so ingrained with the habit that, although they may not know why, they just feel “bad” or “uneasy” when they haven’t “done something” today. (I do go on a bit don’t I)

That is the “true” competitive sport isn’t it: BECOMING! I’m sure other competitions have their place, I’m just not sure what it is.

Hope this helps… a bit anyway… “A shared memory is part of who they are forever.”
Thank you so much for replying to my question so quickly. It has allayed my fears and we are back out running and enjoying it… Again many thanks, Lisa O.

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