Kids on the Run

Organizers of Global Running Day hope to have a million children pledge to run in the Million Kid Run on June 1. The event, spearheaded by the New York Road Runners and supported by other running groups, is one of many new programs aimed at getting children involved in the sport with the hope of making physical activity a part of their daily lives — safely.

There is no hard and fast rule for when kids can start running, said Dr. Danelle Fisher, the chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teenagers should not be encouraged to run full marathons, and many races already restrict entry by age. Runners must be 12 years old to run one of the New York Road Runners’ half-marathons and 18 to run the New York City Marathon.

Girls on the Run, a national organization that sponsors running programs culminating in a 5K, works with girls from third through eighth grade. Elizabeth Kunz, its chief executive, says the program starts when most girls are 8 years old, in part because research published in 2008 in JAMA showed that children’s physical activity starts to drop off at age 9, especially for girls.

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