Parents who run with jogging strollers don’t get as good a workout as if they ran without one ⏤ even though they’re pushing the extra weight. Also, their form is probably going to crap. Those are the two takeaways from a recent Seattle Pacific University study that examined the health benefits associated with how people push strollers when they run with kids.
As it turns out, the reason outlined in the study is rather simple: Runners inherently take shorter strides and slow down when pushing a stroller, even when doing their best to maintain their non-stroller pace. Makes sense, right? The slower speeds result in a lower heart rate and fewer calories burned. Doesn’t matter that they’re exerting extra energy pushing the stroller. Now, if they can keep up the same speed, and push the stroller, then the workout will pay bigger dividends. But that appears tough to do.
According to researchers, runners push strollers in one of three ways: with one hand, two hands, or in intervals, pushing and chasing. After hooking monitors up to 16 runners who’d never used a jogging stroller before, they sent them off around a track to test all three pushing methods. In the end, none of the runners could maintain their pre-stroller pace ⏤ they all slowed down using each style. Running with both hands on the handlebars proved to be the most effective way to maintain stride/form and pace, but their speeds still decreased. As did the physical benefits of the run.
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Long and short is that runners can to do two things to maximize the benefits of pushing a jogging stroller: One: Keep both hands on the handlebars to maintain proper stride and form; and two, monitor that pace religiously and push harder. It’s going to take more work, but it’ll be worth it in the end.