Family Fitness

The Little Rock Marathon is just under six months away and some serious runners are already preparing. While checking such an accomplishment off one’s bucket list is often an individual feat, why not make it a family affair? No better time to start than today – National Family Health and Fitness Day!

The time spent training facilitates great bonding opportunities and completing such an event as a family unit instills a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

Certainly, one size does not fit all in training for such events. Kids in particular must train at a rate that is fun and safe for their growing bodies. Dr. Ethan Schock, a sports medicine physician at Arkansas Specialty Orthopaedics who is a runner along with all three of his sons, stresses that first and foremost, they should be doing it for fun.

“If it’s not fun, it’s going to defeat the purpose of them running,” he says. “Reasonable distances are key. Run, and then stop and talk or look around.”

 There are also certain safety considerations to be made for young runners. “Most younger kids’ injuries are related to falling,” Schock says. He also warns against over training, as kids have developing muscles. “Kids have open growth plates,” he explains. “Bones have growth plates on the end. These are potentially weaker spots where most breaks happen in children. Too much stress can cause damage.” He emphasizes that while it’s not a reason for kids not to run, parents should keep it in mind.

Adults who have never before run face other considerations. One of the most common injuries among runners in general is a stress fracture, often the result of increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too rapidly — like trying to run 10 miles right out the door. “As a general rule, it is important to increase distance by 10 percent each week for kids, as well as adults,” Schock says.

His attitude toward his kids’ training is fairly relaxed. “If kids are preparing for an event, they should do something every day,” he explains. “Not necessarily running every day, but do something to stay active every day — whether that is soccer, riding a bike or running.”

So, whether you plan to train for the marathon or are just ready for a fun day in the sun, we hope you and your loved ones enjoy National Family Health and Fitness Day!