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Walking

Walking is the Way to Go

We’re all back to another school year so perhaps now is the perfect time to rethink how we get our children there.

A recent study found that less than 50% of kids that live within a 15 minute walk from school actually get there that way, despite the majority of those kids wanting to.

Chances are that most of the grandparents of today’s primary school children walked, rode or caught the bus to school; so why the change?

Deakin University has found that 45 per cent of parents were concerned about traffic, 22 per cent thought their children to young or unreliable and 20 per cent had fears surrounding ‘stranger danger’. Time constraints were also cited as a deterrent to an alternative to driving children directly to the school gate every day.

But it seems that the things parents use as a reason to chauffeur their kids to school may, in most cases, be unjustified and may, in fact, increase the risks. According to a UK paper ‘The Backseat Report’ ― ‘We believe that getting a lift to school every day limits the horizons, leading to isolated, vulnerable children’.

The benefits of walking or cycling to school:

  • Increased powers of concentration found to last up to 4 hours
  • Positive effect on mood by reducing anxiety and feelings of anger
  • Puts children in contact with their natural environment
  • Instils a sense of community
  • Increased daily exercise
  • Responsibility and accountability and sense of empowerment and independence.

The Australian Federal Government guidelines recommend that all children get an hour of moderate exercise each day. Unfortunately less than 20% of our kids are currently getting that so, walking or cycling to school is a great way to increase their daily exercise.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman, Harold Scruby, says ‘Research recommends that children should not be crossing a road without holding adult’s hand until about the age of 10. So if your child is younger than 10, walk with them.’ Even if you do need to drive the car, park 500m ― 1 kilometre from the school gate and walk or cycle together; as well as getting some extra exercise it is a fantastic opportunity to talk to your child about road safety.

If your child will be more focused and in a better mood for the walk or cycle to school just imagine the benefits to you. And you may be pleasantly surprised with outcome; a happier, healthier, more focused, independent and responsible child. Allowing your child to walk, cycle or ride the bus to school is also a great way for them to learn valuable life skills such as road safety rules, effective time management and responsibility for possessions like bike, helmet or bus pass.

If you are still unsure about letting your children make their way to school on their own talk to your school; they may be able to put you in touch with a Walking- School Bus program in your area.

For more information on this great government initiative see http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/wsb
For more information and tips on walking to school check out www.walk.com.au
Check out the Fitstyler Health Articles page for more health related articles.

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