The problem of childhood obesity all over the world, is on the rise. For example, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are over 42 million obese children worldwide, under the age of five years old. An overweight child will most likely result in an overweight adult, and have a greater than 80 per cent chance of suffering from weight-related problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
This is definitely a result of the sedentary lifestyle that many children lead today. The advancement of technological devices such as smartphones and tablets are definitely not helping either. For example, in Singapore, up to the the 1980s and 1990s, children used to look forward to going outdoors and playing games such as hopscotch, five stones and skipping. However, today’s generation of children prefer to stay indoors and play games on their parents’ smartphones and tablets.
If you are a runner yourself and you have seen the benefits of engaging regularly in this activity, it is not too late to get your children involved in running too and learn to embrace it – without the kids feeling as though you are forcing them into it.
Here are some running tips – on how to get kids involved in running.
1. Go to the parks
Children love outings. So instead of going out to run by yourself, one day tell your children that you are going to take them to the nearby park. Treat this session like a family outing and teach them about some of the beautiful plants that are at the park, pointing out names of trees and perhaps any birds or insects that you do see as well. At the same time, burst into a run at occasions and challenge your children to catch you. Treat it something like a game of ‘tag’, which used to be a common interest of many children in Singapore up to the 1990s.
2. Invite them to your races
Do not see races purely as a chance to catch up with your running kakis. Use these as a chance too, to engage your children in the activities. Get another family member or friend to bring them to the race site and ask your children to act as your cheerleaders to cheer you and the other runners on. If you want, you could buy or make colourful costumes for them, so that they may enjoy the experience more. Being children, they should lap up the excitement and festivities at the race. Then after the race, you could even invite your children to play with your nice new medal – and perhaps even challenge them to ‘win’ one of their own.
3. Put your children’s name down for a child race
Many of Singapore’s largest races have a children’s category. Some examples include the 750m Kids Dash at the annual Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore and the 800m Parent and Child Challenge at the NTUC Income RUN350. By putting your children’s name down for these races, it will encourage them to train and run with you and give them something to look forward to at the same time – and over the course of running together with you, they may even develop their own running regime, rather than sitting at home and playing on your iPad while you go running.
4. Start a running log for your child
Just like how you would track your own running times and distances with a GPS watch or apps such as Runkeeper or Map My Run, do the same for your child and this will give them encouragement to go further and faster. You don’t have to buy an expensive gadget for them though. You could use a cheap notebook or Microsoft Excel to track these – and over time, you can even set the child challenges, such as completing 2.4km within 14 minutes, without walking.