I have two young children, both have been out running with me in our running stroller frequently. I’ve always told myself I’m working harder during my run, but exactly how much?
Running with a stroller is harder. Apart from the extra physical exertion, the obstacles you could easily avoid without a stroller will take a little more maneuvering with a stroller. In addition, perceptual focus transforms from almost mindless jogging to becoming more aware of path conditions and potential dangers.
Inside Science published an article outlining research on running with or without strollers. The study found that variables such as pace and pushing techniques affect how much energy the joggers consume.
While having a run with a stroller might present some challenges, there are health benefits attached to it – in short; it burns more calories. Other aspects such as stroller types, routes, and safety can enrich your running experience.
The science and benefits behind jogging with a stroller
In an experiment conducted by biologist Cara Wall-Scheffler and student Ryan Alcantara, they observed and monitored 16 runners in various running scenarios to establish how stroller-running affects the way calories are burned.
First, the runners had to take on their average pace with no resistance. The second observation included the strollers, and the runners used different pushing techniques. In a nutshell, the findings showed that pushing a stroller while running uses more energy. They also found that certain pushing styles burned more calories than others.
Use this calculator, developed by Ryan Alcantara, to calculate the calories you burned on your stroller run. If you want to know more about it, follow the link to see their study in poster format https://wallscheffler.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/acsm-poster.pdf.
Benefits of running with a stroller:
Stroller running, as seen above, is a great workout, and it helps you burn more calories. Use the calculator and work out just how much more you can burn with different techniques. Even slow running will get you working up a good sweat.
When you go running without the added resistance of the stroller, you might notice that it feels easier to run after using a stroller for so long. Alternating between stroller and solo runs is a great way to keep your running program interesting until your toddler grows out of a stroller.
You might think that it is impossible to train for a race when you have been jogging only half of what you need to prepare for a race. However, jogging with your stroller and the effort of pushing the weight while you run will increase your heart rate. This is how you’ll substitute distance for heart rate: (visit www.polar.com/blog/running-heart-rate-zones-basics/ to learn how to calculate your heart rate for effective training)
Say you have a training plan that calls for 3 one-mile repeats with one-minute interval rest. Instead of trying to run those at your threshold pace, run them at your threshold heart rate, which is about 85-88 percent of your max heart rate.
Another benefit found in pushing your toddler in front of you while you push the limit is that you get to spend some quality time with your little one. See the tips below on how to make it fun for both mommy and baby.
Tips for jogging with your toddler
For your toddler
Sitting in a stroller while you aim for your personal best might not be your little one’s idea of time well spent. Use some creativity to lure them along: end the run with a 20-minute play at the park or feeding the ducks at the pond.
Take special toys for jogging and only keep them for your running trips. If it is possible to attach the toy to a lanyard, do so; or you might have to circle back continuously to pick up accidental drops. Pack snacks, lots of snacks. Remember the water or juice cups as well.
Take the weather into consideration, and if your toddler may feel cold while you are building up a sweat. Also, avoid running with your baby when it is too hot outside. Having a hot, grumpy child is a sure way to cut your 5k run into half.
There are rain shields you can buy to cover the stroller for rain or cold; if this solves your problem, nothing can stop you from hitting that 5k. You can also look into getting a sun shield or visors for hot days; remember to apply sunscreen even on mild days. (You can purchase both shields on Amazon.)
Safety will be your priority. While you do not want a route with lots of people wandering into your path or cars and trucks driving by, you also don’t want to choose a course that is completely isolated. If you need help, make sure you chose a path where you can rely on people’s assistance.
Some suggest that proper form plays an important role in fitness; if your form is off, the workout might be less effective. This is especially true when you are jogging with a stroller. Avoid leaning over the bars. Keep your shoulders back and your core tight – your lower back will thank you for the effort.
Make it fun for yourself and your baby; you can use this opportunity to play some educational games. Invent your own way of teaching the basics; for instance, pick a color for the day and have your toddler point it out each time they spot it. You can count some ducks or play the sound game (assigning sounds to things you see like animals or airplanes, for example).
Adding to our first paragraph on safety, below are some stroller options and a link to follow for more information. It will be a good idea to have a wrist strap attached to the stroller. If your hands slip, the strap will prevent the stroller from rolling out of reach.
The best strollers on the market for running
If you want to join the stroller-jogging circle, you’ll need to find a decent stroller to make the workout as effective as possible. Listed below are six great options to consider according to your specific needs:
|Model||Bob Revolution Pro||Thule Urban Glide 2||Baby Jogger Summit||Joovy’s Zoom360|
|Suggested age for stroller running||8 months and up to 70lbs||6 months and up||6 months and up||*Average 6 to 8 months|
|Summary||Considered the best overall option.||A durable option with outstanding safety features.||This option will last you well into toddlerhood.||Offers a smooth ride.|
|Buy in the US||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||n/a||Amazon.com|
|Buy in the UK||Buggybaby.co.uk||Buggybaby.co.uk||Amazon.co.uk||Amazon.co.uk|
*The article does not mention any specific age, but the overall guidelines suggest that most manufacturers recommend running/jogging with your baby from 6 to 8 months up. See below for more about when your baby is ready for a run (Best age to take your little one along for the run). To see the detailed reviews and more options follow the link below.
When is it safe to take your little one along for the run
The best place to start is to have a conversation with your pediatrician before you make the final decision on when to jog with your baby in a stroller. There are a few things that you have to take into consideration when you go out for a run.
According to Doctor Segura – a pediatrician in Virginia – babies in the sitting position will only develop proper neck and head control between 6 and 8 months of age. Babies younger than 6 months cannot tolerate the intense movements of the stroller without potentially suffering from whiplash.
The proper equipment is a must if you want to go running. They manufacture these strollers for this purpose and have safety features that will make the experience better for you and your little one. The doctor also recommends checking with the manufacturer’s specifications before you purchase a stroller.
Running with a stroller is harder; there is an increase in physical exertion; added to that, there are things to consider like buying a good jogging stroller or where you can and cannot go with your new stroller. All that aside, it is still more than doable, and it will be beneficial for you and your baby.