Walking and bike riding are healthy ways to get to and from school. Skipping the school drop-off traffic for more active commutes can contribute to the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity kids need each day. Here are 3 reasons and a bonus benefit of walking, biking or rolling to school.
Walking, biking and rolling to school is a great way for children to get their daily dose of physical activity while also forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Research suggests that physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, underscoring the importance of developing the habit of regular physical activity early.
Improved Academic Performance
The small investment of time to walk, bike or roll to school, rather than drive, pays off in the classroom as well. Research cited by the CDC states that kids who are physically active tend to concentrate better, remember what they learned, and have more on-task time than their inactive peers.
Improved Mental Health
With mental health issues rising in children throughout the past decade, it’s important to find small ways to combat these issues and improve mental health on a daily basis. Spending time outside is linked to many positive mental health outcomes – improved focus, lower stress, better mood, and reduced risk of developing a mental health condition. Walking can help to reduce the severity of mental health issues, too. Just an hour of physical activity a day can help reduce stress and reduce depression and anxiety.
Bonus Benefit – It’s Good for You, too!
It’s recommended that children under ten walk or bike to school by a parent, or trusted adult, or as a part of a walkpool (like carpools but walking instead of driving). By walking or biking with your child to school, you can reap the physical and mental health benefits, too!
Physical activity for just 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and osteoporosis. It can also improve your blood pressure, increase strength, and boost endorphins. Walking your child to school can make you healthier and happier!
Worried About Safety?
Children usually aren’t ready to start walking or biking to school without an adult until about fifth grade, or around age 10. Younger children are more impulsive and less cautious around traffic, and they often don’t fully understand other potential dangers they could come across.
By walking or biking with your children to and from school, you can help them learn the neighborhood, teach them about traffic signs, street signs and directions, and model correct behaviors when crossing streets. Walking and biking in groups and adopting a buddy system can also increase safety. Walkers should also avoid using electronics that could distract them during their route.