There’s nothing quite like seeing the smiling, happy faces of young children taking part in physical activities. At Great Run, we have seen first-hand just how much enjoyment kids get from the Great Run youth running series, and a 2019 Sport England study* also revealed that running and athletics is the third most popular sporting activity in 7-11 year-olds.
There are multiple health and development benefits for children who are active, so we’ve picked some of the top benefits of why running is great for kids.
1. MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELLBEING
Running makes us feel good in mind and body. In a digital era, now more than ever we’re needing to put down our tablets and gadgets and get outside to dust the cobwebs off. Young people benefit from exercise for the same reasons as adults, it keeps us strong, helps to prevent injury and illness, helps us to sleep better, and boosts our mood. NHS Change 4 Life* also say that kids need to be active for 60 minutes a day which aides in the development of co-ordination, maintaining a healthy weight and overall fitness.
2. IT MAKES YOU HAPPY!
The more time we spend keeping active is of great benefit for our overall wellbeing and happiness. Fresh air and activity bring endorphins which make us feel great, and children are no different. Challenging ourselves through running or activity helps to build confidence in our abilities and what we can achieve, something that is so important for children’s self-belief and happiness.
3. IMPROVES CONFIDENCE AND RESILIENCE
Running creates confidence in our abilities, which helps children develop increased persistence and resilience. A 2019 Sport England study* stated that physically active children have improved mental wellbeing (described as happiness in the survey) and they also noted that physical activity contributes to a child’s personal development with active children sited as more likely to be resilient and keep trying even when they find something difficult. Running also keeps us social, which helps with our confidence too. Running groups, running with school or at a Great Run Local helps bring people together and as a result, reduces loneliness.
4. IT RAISES YOUR IQ!
Research shows that exercise increases the production of key brain chemicals that encourage the growth of new cells and help develop new neural pathways (lines of communication between the brain and the body). A recent Swedish study found a clear link between high levels of aerobic fitness and better results in an IQ test – making running the ideal workout for a brain boost. NHS Change 4 Life also promotes physical activity stating that it improves attention levels and performance at school.
5. IT’S FUN TO RUN
Taking part in a running event, or group is also great fun. The atmosphere, and receiving a medal and goodies as your finishers reward always helps too. We love to see young children receiving their medals at our Great Run Junior, Mini and Family Run events. The event village following these events is also a great place to stop for activities, competitions, and food and drink stalls.
6. RUN AS A FAMILY
Regular exercise has lots of health benefits for children and young people, but the whole family too. Why not encourage the whole family to get running? Find your nearest Junior, Mini or Family Run here: https://www.greatrun.org/juniormini
*NHS Change 4 Life: https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities
*A 2019 Sport England study “Active Lives Children and Young People Survey” published December 2019.