Here's a true story: When I was 13, I was inactive, overweight, and a poor student. My parents persuaded me to join my school cross-country team to get some exercise. The interactions and positive experiences I had while running changed my life. I had more energy, I was happier, and I started doing better in school (eventually, I even made it to the Olympics!). Here's how to safely get children of all ages excited about running—for life.
Ages 6 and Under How far? Not very. At this age, playing chase or racing Dad to the mailbox is a great way to introduce kids to running.
Run/walk ratio Run segments should be no longer than 10 to 20 seconds. Walk one to two minutes between each.
Ages 7 to 9 How far? Start with a quarter of a mile. Every week, add a minute or two until you both can complete a mile. If your kid is having a blast, keep adding time until you're up to 3.5 miles—at that point you can talk about run/walking a 5-K together.