“Jungle Jeeping” Trail Running with Children

The Perfect Trail for "Jungle Jeeping."
The Perfect Trail for “Jungle Jeeping.”

42-16586751Helping Children Enjoy  Running

(while YOU get the Aerobic Exercise you Need to Reduce Stress Levels and Burn Calories)

My son calls running or walking fast on trails “Jungle Jeeping”.  Walking and running as a game encourages kids to work with fatigue and enjoy exercise more.  “Jungle Jeeping” can be a creative way for parents to make time to exercise while simultaneously enjoying quality time with their children.

To get the most out of  Jungle Jeeping:

  • Do it for the first time on a nice day.  Wet trails are slippery and not a good option for a first time outing!
  • Bring some healthy snacks as a surprise treat/reward.
  • Bring water
  • Make sure you and your child have good foot wear. ( appropriate for trail running)
  • Start slow and get a comfortable rhythm; as fast as your child can run safely.  This will depend on the child’s age and balance.  The idea is to really relax into the gravity, balance and run letting the body move along like a Jeep coasting on a curvy undulating road, rolling and turning with the terrain.
  • Find a fun area with undulating trails and let the gravity take you for a ride
  • Throw your hands up in the air as you go down hill and make a lot of noise…this is a time for kids to be loud and have fun.  “Here comes a bump in the road….Don’t be afraid to shout WHOO HOO as you go up and over!

How to Maximize the Fitness Benefits

  • Increase the steepness of the route as you and your child develop fitness, comfort with balance and running down hills.
  • Make it a goal to Jungle Jeep for 30 minutes at a time going fast enough to get your heart rate up if you can to a fat burning range. A healthy, fit 9 year old should be able to trail run at a minimum of 10 minutes per mile or faster depending on fitness level and steepness of terrain.
  • Explain to children that breathing hard does not mean they need to stop and rest.  Resting should be done when legs get tired or they just feel they are beginning to lose power due to general fatigue.  Breathing hard is not a bad thing!!  It’s a good thing and a sign that your heart and lungs are getting a workout!  Yeah!
  • Figure out your target heart rate or perceived exertion by visiting one of the websites below.
  • Wear a watch so you can check your heart rate. #or beats in 10 seconds x 6 = bpm beats per minutes.

Tool: Target heart rate calculator – MayoClinic.com Rate_of_Perceived_Exertion.pdf (application/pdf Object)

  • Start out doing 10 to 15 minutes of running per outing and gradually increase your time,  adding a few minutes per. outing over a 4 week period.   (For younger children gauge the length of time by their fatigue level and ask them to tell you when they have had enough.  Remember, too much will make them not want to go next time.)
  • Keep track of how far you have run each time.  Have a 3 month goal and plan a reward outing (make it an active one like a trip to the zoo or the beach)
  • For older children ask them to invite a friend along…..many kids don’t have parents who like to do these types of activities and both the parents and the child might appreciate the novelty.

Have fun!

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