This question was motivated by seeing a 6 or 7 year old girl jogging with her mom today. I was in slow moving traffic so I know she ran at least 2.5 miles (the distance between the lights causing said traffic). The little girl was wearing ear buds, running shoes/gear, and had what looked like a pedometer on her waist. A perfect replica of her mom. If she wasn't so young it would have been cute, but because of her apparent age it left me feeling more disturbed than anything.
Don't get me wrong - kids need exercise. But I feel that pre-adolescence, it should be more about play, fun, team building, and sportsmanship than "fitness." Perhaps my opinion is off base? After all, Olympians are made not born right?
However, with Olympians in mind, I am having trouble finding any other motivation for a lengthy jog than to be fit or to train. I actually love jogging, but wouldn't dream of encouraging my 9-year-old to do it because the benefits (besides an Olympic Medal) I'm seeking are not applicable to him - cardiovascular health, weight management, mental clarity, muscle tone... frankly, running just seems like it would be really boring for a kid. Of course, there are also risks involved, which are joint damage, getting hit by a car, sprains, etc... So why would someone allow/encourage a young child to do it? Is it healthy for a 6, 7, 8 year old to do long distance running? At what age is running a healthy form of exercise for a kid?
Am I crazy for thinking this scene was weird to begin with? (That's a matter of opinion and not good "stack" form so no one has to answer that...)
I don't want people to think I'm picking on runners - I also wonder if any of these other "adult" sports would be healthy/appropriate for a young child (say, more than 5, less than puberty):
- weight lifting
- swimming (laps, not as part of a team)
Do any of these sports have a benefit unique to children (as in, something kids would get that adults wouldn't - such as a development advantage) that would make them a better alternative to the usual kid sports (baseball, soccer, karate, etc.) that perhaps I am unaware of?
I realize there's quite a bit of opinion-orientated questions in here - but I'm leaving it so that my intent is understood. I'm really curious to know if running, etc., is harmful to kids or merely unpopular. If they are harmful, at what age do they transition into the healthy category?