Stroller jogging with a little one is a great way to squeeze in an efficient workout, whether you’re new to running or more advanced. For some families, a daily or weekly stroller jog becomes a special routine. Plus, time outdoors has been shown to promote well-being in both kids and adults.
A stroller designed for jogging helps provide a smooth run for you and a comfortable ride for the child. A jogging stroller is similar to a regular stroller with added features like three large wheels made of durable rubber, a front wheel lock and a suspension system. These strollers are designed to stay steady and keep the child supported during adventures ranging from fast walks to road runs and trail runs. Learn more about how to choose a jogging stroller in our buying guide.
Running with a jogging stroller is different from running solo. Before getting started, you’ll want to learn how to assess if you're ready, how to run with a jogging stroller, how to build strength and run faster with confidence over time, and how to care for your jogging stroller.
Consult with your child’s pediatrician as well as your own doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. You’ll want to make sure the kiddo you plan to jog with is developmentally ready for the turns, stops and accelerations of a stroller run. You’ll also want to make sure you’re ready, especially if you’re a parent who recently gave birth, or you’re new to running.
How to Know if a Baby Is Ready for Stroller Jogging
Babies are ready to ride in a jogging stroller when they have been cleared to do so by their pediatrican and when they have good head and neck control, usually between 6 and 8 months. Development looks a little different for every baby; be sure to check with the child's doctor and consult the stroller manual before getting started. Some strollers come with infant inserts or car seat adaptors; you should also read the manufacturer’s instructions and speak with your pediatrician if you intend to use these. While most stroller brands say their inserts can accommodate babies as small as 5 pounds, many experts do not recommend using these inserts to jog with infants that small, especially if you’ll be on bumpy trails where your child’s head might bounce around.
How to Know if You’re Ready
Practice running without a stroller before pushing a child in one while running. For advice on how to get started running, read our beginner's guide to running.
If you’re a parent who recently gave birth, you can start walking and jogging with a stroller once your doctor approves you for exercise. Start out slow. Your body may feel different from before childbirth, and it can take time to rebuild strength. Some caregivers enjoy taking the stroller for a few long walks before beginning to jog.
You’ll want to start by building core, leg and arm strength (see How to Build Strength for Jogging with a Stroller). If your doctor has approved you to run and you can both perform the exercises below and run for several minutes without a stroller, with no pain and an even stride, you’re ready to try running with a stroller.
Start with intervals: Walk for two minutes, run for two minutes, walk for two minutes and so on. Interval running, or running interspersed with breaks to allow you to recover, helps you keep good form. To start, make loops around your neighborhood, so you’re not too far from home if the baby gets cranky. Run the flat portions and walk the hills while you’re getting the hang of things. Remember to focus on extra hydration, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
If something doesn’t feel right or you start experiencing pain, slow down to a walk. If you have sharp, deep or achy pain, take a rest day. Stretch and try some of the exercises below. If your pain persists after a rest day, check in with a physical therapist or doctor.
Jogging with a stroller may require you to engage new muscles and to rethink how you tackle your workouts. For many caregivers, it’s a welcome challenge that helps to build physical strength and mental flexibility. As you run, you’ll want to:
Make sure the child is secure. Most jogging strollers have a harness and straps to keep the child in an optimal position. Before taking off, make sure the straps are tight against the child’s chest (there should be one finger of space between the strap and their chest) and well-placed over their shoulders (hitting mid-shoulder, versus digging into their neck). This will help minimize bouncing as you navigate rocks, roots and sidewalk curbs.
Check in with the child frequently. Check in on the child to make sure they’re comfortable as you run. After all, the child is sitting rather than working up a sweat (and they don’t get the benefit of exercise-induced endorphins, either). Make it fun by talking, singing and pointing out the various things you see around you. While you may be used to sprinting through a run, stroller running with a child gives you the opportunity to take frequent breaks for water, snacks and maybe even some play time in the park.
- Run with one hand on the stroller, while swinging the other arm. Experts recommend running with one hand on the stroller while the other arm swings, then switching hands every 30 seconds or so. Pushing the stroller with the same arm may lead to overuse injuries. And if you push the stroller with both hands, you may be more apt to hunch or overwork muscles in your mid- and low-back. There are some exceptions: If you’re running uphill, for example, use both hands to push the stroller along at an even pace. And on all terrain types, pay close attention to staying upright and avoid hunching over. Work on keeping your arms bent at 90 degrees from your body. Whether pushing with one hand or two, always use the wrist strap provided for safety so the stroller doesn't get away from you.
- Shorten your stride. You may find yourself kicking the bottom of the stroller at first. If that happens, try shortening your stride to accommodate your new setup. Think of it as a bonus workout: Shorter strides force you to engage your core and keep your body in good alignment.
- Engage your core. It’s tempting to lean on the handlebar for support. But use your core to stay upright to help avoid injury. Keep your belly button close to your spine and push the stroller using your entire body rather than just your biceps. To engage your core, it helps to imagine that you’re about to get punched in the stomach. Or, pay attention to your ribs; try not to let them splay toward the stroller’s handlebar.
- Reset when needed. If you start to feel tired or fatigued during your run, slow to a walk and roll out your shoulders. Take a deep breath. Reengage your core and avoid hunching your shoulders. Start running again when your body feels ready.
Running with a stroller can be challenging. There’s less resistance on the downhill, and a lot of added weight on flat and uphill terrain. You may run slower than you would without a stroller—and that’s OK! Any stroller run will make you stronger, no matter how far you go.
Stroller running does not build basic muscle strength and, for this reason, physical therapists recommend cross-training. Prioritize exercises that strengthen your quads, hips, calves, core and arms. As with jogging, these exercises can feel strenuous and challenging when you're first starting out, especially for the birthing parent. Proceed cautiously, take breaks and stop immediately if you experience pain.
Training Exercises for Jogging with a Stroller
- Squats: Strap a mini exercise band around both legs, mid-thigh, and then bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, as if you’re sitting in a chair. Use small steps to shuffle from side to side while maintaining the squat position. Take 20 steps in each direction, then take a break. Aim to complete three rounds. As the exercise gets easier, move the band to your calves, then your ankles.
- Heel raises: Build calf strength by slowly lifting your weight onto your toes, then dropping your heels back down. As you move, stand tall and try not to lean forward. Start with both legs, and aim for three rounds of 20 repetitions. When you feel strong using both legs, switch to single-leg heel raises, with three sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
- Bridges: Lie on your back with your shoulders and feet on the ground, and your butt lifted up. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your core as you hold this position. If you feel strong enough to maintain the bridge for 10 seconds, add one lifted leg. Work toward a 30-second hold on each side, with three repetitions.
- Side planks: Instead of a front plank, start with side planks, which build stability and work your deep core. Lie on your right side, supported by your elbow under your shoulder; your right forearm should be perpendicular to your body; your left hand should rest on your left hip, with your left elbow pointing up; your legs and feet should be stacked atop one another. Tighten your core as you raise your hips up into a plank, creating a straight line from your head to feet. Work up to holding the side plank for 30 seconds, then repeat your left side. Repeat the 30-second hold three times on each side.
Interval training is an ideal way to build endurance with the jogging stroller. Physical therapists recommend running for 30 minutes total, interspersing five to 10 minutes of a fast pace with one- to two-minute walking breaks. Maintain good form. When your form falters, it’s time to give your body a break and slow to a walk.
Common running injuries include pain on the bottoms of your feet; incontinence and pelvic floor pain (for the birthing parent); and hip and knee pain. Because you’re pushing a stroller, you may experience shoulder fatigue. Stop immediately if you experience pain while running. And, if you think you may be injured, make an appointment with your doctor or physical therapist.
Tips and Tricks
Consider the following tricks and tips from stroller-running pros:
- Pick the right attire for the child. Remember that the child will be sitting in the stroller, not running with you, so you may want to dress them in layers that are warmer than yours on cooler days. If it’s warm outside, pack a hat and have sunscreen on hand.
- Bring snacks, water and supplies. Every caregiver knows snacks are the key to keeping everyone happy. In addition to something to nibble on and plenty of water, most caregivers also like to throw in a diaper and a change of clothes, just in case.
- Set low expectations. Kids are unpredictable, and many don’t take to the jogging stroller immediately! Instead of making it a goal to run four miles, aim to get outside for 30 minutes or an hour with the stroller. Build from there and remember that every day is different.
A good jogging stroller should last for years. To make sure it keeps running well, use the following tactics:
- Check the tires. Before you leave for a run, check the tires to make sure they’re full of air. If they’re not full, the stroller will veer sideways or be difficult to push. You could also be at risk for a flat that could result in a collision.
- Check the screws. Make sure the screws on the wheels are tight, too. Over time, these can loosen and make the wheels wobble, which isn’t safe.
- Check the front wheel lock. Some front wheel locks can become less secure over time. If this happens to you, contact the manufacturer for a replacement lock or screw.
- Clean the fabric. Own it for long enough and you’ll expose your jogging stroller to spit-up, snacks, dirt and more. Use a wet cloth to scrub down the fabric on a regular basis.
- Store in a dry place. Avoid storing the jogging stroller anywhere damp, as this could cause the metal to rust or the materials to mold. Choose indoor over outdoor storage, if possible.
Remember: Safety is your responsibility. No internet article or video can replace proper instruction and experience—this article is intended solely as supplemental information. Be sure you’re practiced in proper techniques and safety requirements before you engage in any outdoor activity.
Article by Jenni Gritters. Jenni is a nomadic freelance journalist. You can find her bylines in the New York Times, the Guardian, Wirecutter, Outside magazine, 538, mindbodygreen and more. When Jenni isn’t working with words, she’s likely hiking, camping and snowshoeing with her husband, son and puppy. She’s been an REI member since 2017.
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