For many kids, running is a form of punishment: The sides to sides your Coach makes you do after a mistake on the pitch or court; the sprint to catch the bus before school; the dash to class before you’re counted late; or a response to mum’s nagging, “why don’t you go run around outside?”
And let’s not forget the annual school bleep fitness test. Ugh!
Believe it or not, though, running can be fun – and not in a “tough love, learning experience” kind of way – just a straight up good time. Give it a chance!
Here are at least five good reasons every kid should drop the video game controller and head out that door for a run (don’t worry, the video games will still be there when you get back).
1. The Run and Post-Run Rush
You know that feeling you get when you ace a test or beat your mates in Clash of Clans? You can get that same feeling through running. It’s called “the runner’s high,” and it makes you feel like you are strong, fast and on top of the world. Best of all, the feeling of euphoria lingers long after you stop moving.
Even running for 10 minutes around the block is enough to get something called “endorphins” (a chemical in the brain that makes us feel happy) flowing. Combine that with the joy of being outside, away from school or homework, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
2. To Keep in Shape
Running is the easiest, quickest way to stay in shape, both for other sports and for life in general.
Being able to play good attack or defence is very important in almost every sport, but you have to be in shape to do both on a consistent basis. Running a few times a week is the perfect way to get your legs and lungs ready for a full-court press or an outfield dash to catch a long ball. Just 10 to 30 minutes a day is all you need to make a big difference in your game.
Even if you don’t play other sports – actually, especially if you don’t play other sports – running is still an important part of a healthy lifestyle. People of all ages should exercise a few times a week.
3. To Get Smart
Studies have shown that just a little bit of aerobic exercise each day can actually create new brain cells and improve memory (you can tell a sport is “aerobic” because it causes you to be out of breath, but you can still do it longer than five minutes). One test showed that students who ran for 30 minutes were better able to memorize and remember information than when they stayed still or lifted weights.
So if you are having a hard time concentrating in class or struggling with tests, try going for a run before you study. Get healthy and get smarter … quite the one-two punch.
4. To Discover New Places
Running takes you places. You can explore the woods, the neighborhood or the beach. You can explore almost anywhere and do so powered by your own two feet. It is a good opportunity to experience things you might have otherwise missed, like a bird’s nest, a new trail, or a view from high above your town. Running gives you a little taste of freedom.
Hot Tip: Safety First
Make sure that exploring is done safely and in the company of a trusted adult. Tell your parents when you are going out, and run in a group that includes at least one person over the age of 18. And chances are that the adult (parent/mentor/coach) will know the best places to go anyway, so it’s really a win-win situation.
5. To Excel in the Sport
Running is a sport, too! Most middle and high schools have seasonal cross country and track programs with daily practice and weekend competitions. Both sports provide great opportunities for those who play other sports to get in shape and stay competitive in the offseason. They also offer a unique chance for those who have never played a sport to get involved in athletics.
The benefits of joining a cross country and/or track team?
You can’t be benched and don’t have to worry about playing time.
There are no plays to memorize and practice is never boring.
Kids from all different groups usually join the team, so there is a place and a friend for everyone.
You get out of it what you put into it. If you want to be good, you can train harder. If you are in it for social reasons or just to stay in shape, you won’t be affecting anyone else’s success
The team still matters. Even though each person competes individually, it is still a team sport, and the camaraderie that makes ball sports so fun still exists.
Most programs are co-ed, which can make for a fun (and funny) atmosphere that you just can’t get anywhere else.
Daily practice is an enjoyable way to stay motivated and stay active.
Running can be a sport, an adventure, an avenue to better your grades, or a way to become happier and enjoy a longer life. The more you run, the more fun and rewarding it becomes.
So what are you waiting for?