The secret for children to play sports, and to be able to enjoy exercise with them, is to “find something that motivates them.” The key is that simple, as explained Iker Muñoz, the sports director of Runnea, the community of runners created in Barakaldo by a group of entrepreneurs who develop tools to practice sports such as the Runnea Academy training application. Muñoz points out that with minors a trick that usually works is that of the ‘gamificación‘, turn activities into games. “Just walking or taking a walk can be a bit tedious for them, because they are always looking for encouragement, and that is why you can resort to strategies such as telling them to look for five white stones or proposing a competition such as seeing who gets the biggest leaf”, exemplified.
Along the same lines are the applications for smart phones and watches that allow you to keep track of your activity. «The challenges can work, such as adding kilometers through the mountains or taking a walk, but it is more important to mark a progression. You have to set an objective, even if the objective is simply to be more active and instead of taking a walk three times a week, it is to take it five, ”says Muñoz. When proposing games, you can also apply this same strategy and suggest going out and picking flowers and then making a necklace, or collecting shells to fill a pot.
But beyond tricks and magic formulas, the Runnea sports director is clear about one of the most influential factors for minors to be active. “Many times children try to replicate what they see. In our case, my daughter sees that both me and her mother are physically active and that makes her want to play sports. With our example we create a vision and a subsequent habit in our children», He reasons.
When it comes to playing sports with the little ones, you don’t have to set yourself big challenges. Sometimes the best training can be a game time. “There are many traditional games that involve movement,” recalls Muñoz, who emphasizes that the exercise time should be pleasant for them so that you feel like repeating. «If you want to take the opportunity to exercise as a parent when you are with your children, it is a little more difficult and you have to find the balance. «It happens to those of us who usually train that when we go out with the family we are always in a hurry. They can look for small goals for the road and that everyone has their spaceBut if you want to do a more organized training session, my advice is to get up early, do a few kilometers and then spend free time with the family, ”defends the man, whose work at Runnea includes developing routines to meet sporting goals.
Fight sedentary lifestyle
In Runnea’s case, age does not define training. Although the main range of users is between 30 and 40, its objective is that users can start a more organized practice of sport than simply going out for a run or exercising regularly. As for introducing the youngest to stricter exercise habits, there is also no age to take as a reference. «A 9 or 10-year-old child has no problem running two kilometers. They tend to be very sprinting, with a lot of intermittence in intensity. More than looking for a performance with young people, what it is about is to combat a sedentary lifestyle», He says.
As in the rest of the factors of current life, also in sedentary life the pandemic has brought a new reality. «I have the perception that now society is a little more polarized with sport: There are people who are very aware of the health benefits and who exercise very systematically, and others who with all the disabilities have given up exercise», Reflects Muñoz. In December Runnea released a study with data from all over Spain to find out how runners had imported during 2020 with the situation generated by the coronavirus. «Almost all those who already practiced sport had maintained it on a regular basis and 20% had increased their sport practice at some point», He details. It is not the only interesting study that has come out in these months. Related to the practice of exercise in minors, the sports director warns of the research carried out in Pamplona with very young schoolchildren that reflected how children who performed less physical activity showed higher values of depression, anxiety and even probability of manifesting violent behaviors.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.