Running, even a little bit, can keep you young.  According to a long-term Harvard study (2014), people who ran “just 50 minutes a week or fewer at a moderate pace were less likely to die from either cardiovascular disease or any cause, compared with those who didn’t run at all.”

A 2013 Danish study also supports the idea that you don’t have to fill a runners’ log book with mega weekly miles and time commitment to realize cardiovascular benefits of running.  According to the jogging study, “up to 2.5 hours of jogging a week at a slow or average pace and a frequency of ≤3 times per week seems to be associated with the lowest mortality.”

Slow and Steady

These studies are good news for runners and aspiring runners, especially those who want to run with their children or introduce their children to the sport.  Slow and steady wins.  Lacing up your running shoes and running slowly and consistently during a week can be a good thing.

A slow pace means little legs will have an easier time working out with a grownup, making running with mom or dad doable and enjoyable–and importantly, an experience he or she will want to repeat.

Short runs during the week can also be squeezed into a hectic family schedule, so that makes sticking with runs easier.  Not long ago, I wrote about the value of short and sweet runs.  Not only are they practical, but they allow for an easy infusion of fitness–and positive effects on health and well being–into your lifestyle.

Start Short, Gradually Build Running Time

If you’re sitting on the fence or couch about becoming a runner or running with your children, there’s really no better way to start than to start short.  You can always work your way up to longer runs and bigger mileage.

Take the Challenge

Brand new to running or trail running? First time running with your kids?  Try squeezing in a 10 minute run/jog/walk today. Play games along the way. Laugh. Walk when it’s too hard. Jog to the next telephone poll. Jog to the next tree. Sprint if you feel like it. Set your iPhone timer, if you wish. Just move and enjoy the wind on your face. Enjoy connecting with nature.  And when tomorrow comes… try again for 10 minutes.  Do this 5 times a week for 10 minutes each time, and you’ll be on your way to reducing cardiovascular risks.  If 5 times a week seems like too much, you can always aim to increase your time spent moving. For example, you could aim for 3 days a week for 20 minutes.

Remember, the more you and your kids run, the easier it gets.  Be patient.  And most importantly, make it fun.