2 January 2023
Every Sunday morning children aged 4 to 14 from all across the country gather to run together in the park. Park runs are international now, happening in more than 20 countries. It’s a worldwide movement. Joining a Park Run makes children feel part of an event, rather than just going to the park by themselves. It’s really special for them.
Exercising in the fresh air and as a group has a huge impact for mental as well as physical wellbeing in youngsters. From vitamin D to endorphins, it makes you feel good. It raises children’s confidence in their abilities. They can build consistency in their fitness because Park Runs are on every week. Going in all weathers builds resilience. It can even increase their IQ because aerobic exercise creates chemicals involved in the building of new cells and neural pathways.
The atmosphere at a Park Run is friendly and fun. They are organised by volunteers from the community who children may already know. They welcome all children between the ages of 4 and 14. They are inclusive: you can join in if you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Just email the organisers, depending on how muddy the course is. Children can meet and form friendships with kids from schools other than their own. It's sociable for adults too and that’s good for children to witness. The sense of belonging and community is invaluable.
Adults can accompany younger children on the run and marshalls around the course encourage the children to keep going on the way round. They get a high five and know someone is looking out for them. It's great family bonding time. What could be funnier than Dad slipping in the mud? They may make little running mates they can meet up with or even run with during the week.
Crossing a finish line is exciting and at Park Runs there are spectators to cheer. This gives a sense of achievement. They’ve completed something tangible with a result. Whilst the emphasis is on fun rather than competition, if you register your child they will have an individual barcode which gives an accurate time as they cross the finish line. They can compare this against their own personal best week to week. They even receive an email so you can see how they rank in their age group.
Young kids can be accompanied by an adult but they will quickly feel confident in the group. It's perfectly ok to walk some or all of the course. You might have to give them a piggy back some of the way and that might be tough!
Whilst you are in the park you can point out lots of aspects of nature and see it changing through the season. There may be other sports facilities like tennis or a skate park there so you may find your child inspired to take up other exercise.
Park Runs are a tremendous way to get active and they are free! Give it a go.