For 26 years, Marathon Kids has impacted the lives of millions of kids as one of the only evidence-based structured physical activity programs for children in the United States.

Marathon Kids' flexible volunteer-led coaching model is proven to help increase physical activity and improve athletic self-perception among children.

Research-Proven Methods

Review our unparalleled collection of evidence-based programming proven to get kids moving.


Students in Marathon Kids schools showed significantly higher outcomes on key measures such as increased physical activity and athletic self-perception. BIPOC students reported the highest program satisfaction, which is important given research that found athletic identity to be positively associated with physical activity in elementary and middle school children.

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Phase II: Promoting Physical Activity Through Marathon Kids

A high percentage of Marathon Kids schools incorporated more time during the school day for walking and running, with significant differences found between Marathon Kids and control schools.

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Evaluation of Strategies for Increasing Parent Involvement

Additional support provided to the two enhanced parent communication conditions resulted in increased parent exposure of the Marathon Kids program as well as enhanced program outcomes related to student tracking of miles and attendance at Marathon Kids events.

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Strengths and lessons learned documented in this study provide a strong foundation for the overall approach of Marathon Kids. Engaging and co-learning with the vibrant Marathon Kids’ community-produced best practices for advancing Marathon Kids’ mission of providing a path for healthy youth development through running.

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Published by Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine

All studies conducted by the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
at the University of Texas School of Public Health – Austin.

Evidence-Based Pillars

Six evidence-based pillars to long-term healthy behavior adoption

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Goal Setting

Kids develop a growth mindset setting big and small goals alike.

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Social Support

Moving together is more enjoyable when you feel the support of others.

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Logging miles and measuring progress keeps kids motivated.

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Big cheers and high-fives go a long way to foster long-term behavior adoption.

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Modeling the Way

Role models inspire kids to build new, healthy habits in their lives.

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Consistent, positive recognition fuels kids to keep striving for the next milestone.

Marathon Kids is a nonprofit organization on a mission to get kids moving.
To learn more, please visit our Mission page.