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Parents and children alike can turn to running to stay fit and have a great time together. Getting exercise and fresh air is good for our mental health and immune system.
However, when running with children, it is important to follow some basic safety guidelines:
Like every open-air activity, running depends on the weather, even in the summer. Be prepared. On every outing, bring along a backpack, windproof jacket, sweatband, sunscreen, drinks and food. Don't forget your sunglasses, hand sanitiser, disinfectant and anti-histamine cream in case you get bit or stung by bugs.
A backpack designed specifically for running is less cumbersome than a traditional backpack.
Advice : bring 2 rucksacks for the adults and individual backpacks for each child. Distribute weight based on each child's age.
To have a relaxing, exercise-filled outing, prepare a well-balanced, energy-packed breakfast for the whole family. This can include dairy products, fruit, breakfast cereals, bread and proteins (ham or eggs). The first meal of the day is a great way to get started on the right foot and avoid low blood sugar or early fatigue.
Whatever the weather conditions, drinking is essential for both adults and children when doing any kind of sport. During a fun running outing, children can learn to make sure to save enough water so that they can drink throughout the day (their water can have a little sugar added to it).
During this special situation, you are also recommended to BYOW (Bring Your Own Water)and avoid public drinking fountains.
Advice: always make sure every child stays hydrated while exercising (about 1 sip of water every 10 minutes).
Even if you are only going for a short run, bring along solid foods to make sure you or your children do not end up with low blood sugar. Children love cereal bars, nuts and sweets, and you should bring along these products during every outing.
Before heading out, the best way to motivate your children is by setting up a fun running outing which takes into account their individual levels and abilities and the distance you will be running.
Motor skills are different at every age. Don't think of your kids as little adults. Instead, change your pace, distance and the length of breaks based on the needs of each individual child. Running is an ideal sport for younger people, allowing them to do a different kind of recreational activity which helps stimulate and develop motor and sensory skills.
An example jogging outing with children:
- Start with a short run (no longer than 15 minutes).
- Then, walk for a bit and take a picnic break to replenish your energy.
- Run for a little while longer, and then take some rest breaks in which you play fun games.
- Start your return journey with a short run and have a little challenge after you finish!
The main goal is to have fun with your kids while bearing in mind their individual abilities and desires. The best thing is to do a variety of activities to keep them interested all day long and teach them to love running. These could include:
- Exploring nature by looking for and learning the names of the birds and flowers you see during your outing.
- Learning how to read maps, road signs and a compass.
- Outside games (leapfrog, ball games, etc.)
Running, jumping, and throwing should be the three main activities in your running outings with children under 12 years of age.
Another option: bring along a camera and teach the kids to use it so that they can take pictures of anything they want.
It is essential to protect children from the sun's powerful rays. Use waterproof, sweatproof sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) to protect their skin, sunglasses to protect their fragile eyes and special sporting apparel for outdoor activities. Running clothes should be loose and breathable. Technical fabrics will promote sweat evaporation and leave the skin dry. These items include a T-shirt, light shorts and thin socks.
Choose special technical running socks instead of cotton socks, which soak up water and leave your feet wet. When your feet are wet, rubbing can cause itchiness and chafing.
Did you know that a pair of synthetic socks or a synthetic t-shirt which is specially designed for running will dry three times faster than a pair of cotton socks or a cotton t-shirt?
Advice: don't go barefoot in your running shoes. After just a bit of running, you will end up with blisters! In warm weather, even if it is not sunny, you absolutely should wear a cap to effectively protect you from the sun and the heat. This will keep you safe from sun stroke or heat stroke, which can quickly cut your family running and relaxation outing short.
Remember to bring along a spare face mask to change after a sweaty run.
To ensure maximum comfort, "road and trail" running shoes for kids are perfectly designed for the comfort, safety, and physiology of children. They should be light and flexible and have good support to avoid sprains and a soft cushion to ensure stability when running in almost any setting.
Running should be fun for children. When you run with kids, avoid competitiveness and instead foster a spirit of fun and sharing. Teach your children to observe nature, to listen to their bodies and especially to respond to their needs (in terms of food and beverages) during their run.
Most importantly, make sure to encourage your kids in all of their discoveries and efforts!
Remember that running is an ideal leisure and sporting activity to do with your kids over the holidays. Whether discovering nature, learning and sharing, or developing their bodies and senses, the most important thing is to promote motivation by adapting recreational activities to the abilities of every child and to plan for your run while bearing in mind some key needs, which include food, hydration, sun protection, and running shoes and clothing.
Running, the ideal way for kids to spend the spare time!