Having a baby is quite a life change, and for runners, the days of hitting the gym or the roads for hours at a time — at any time — become a distant memory. About a year ago, I had my first son. I ran through my entire pregnancy and I was eager to continue running once he was born. But I also wondered how I was going to squeeze in exercise while caring for an infant full time.
That's when I turned to the jogging stroller.
Running with a stroller demands more of your cardiovascular and muscular system than running solo, making it great for whipping you into shape. It also doesn't require you getting a babysitter, and it's an activity for both moms and dads.
But before you bust out a 6-mile run with your child, there are a few things you should consider to make the experience comfortable and safe for everyone:
- Age: Most stroller companies recommend your child is at least 6 months old, and that he or she has head control, coordination, and trunk support mastered. On the opposite end of the spectrum, most jogging strollers also have a 70 lbs (5 stone) weight limit.
It's also recommended you check in with your child's doctor before you start running with a stroller.
- Temperature: It is never a good idea to take an infant or child out in a stroller if the temperature is below freezing. For optimal comfort, the temperature should be above 40 F (5 C) and below 80 F (27 C). Also make sure you take into account the added wind resistance from pushing the stroller and dress your child accordingly.
- Time: Infants are best suited for a stroller run after a feeding, diaper change, and close to a normal nap time. Children should be taken during a snack or quiet play time.
- Route safety: Make sure to scout out a route in advance. If running on the sidewalk, ensure the path is clear, and that it is mostly free of pedestrians during the time of your run. If running on the shoulder of a street, choose a well lit, congestion-free road, and run against traffic. I find it is also best to run a wide route designed for fitness, such as a bike or jogging path, when using the stroller.
- Distance:While it's possible to run long distances with a fixed-wheel running stroller, for the benefit of your body and child, it is best to limit your stroller runs. Like I said before, stroller running is much more difficult than running solo, and if you do too much, too soon, you risk injury. In addition, infants will most likely need to be taken back after several miles for a feeding or diaper change, and children will most likely get restless and need time to play outside the stroller.
Running with a stroller is a great way to bond with your child and gives you a way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors together. Since safety and security are the most important aspects of stroller running, I also recommend traveling with a cell phone, snacks, and a diaper bag full of toys, games, and entertainment for your child.
Written by Danielle Bressoud. Danielle is a licensed physical therapist, and running addict living in Massachusetts with her husband and son.
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