We're continuously seeing reports issued by Public Health England, the National Health Service or similar organisations regarding the appalling state of the nation’s health. One of the biggest concerns is about obesity levels in children and the state of their mental wellbeing. There is also a constant stream of reports about climate change and the need for us to all do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint.
To highlight these two issues and more, Walk To School Week encourages all children and adults to walk to school. This nationwide initiative takes place annually during National Walking Month in May and there's a different theme/challenge each year.
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The school run report by Living Streets highlights that a generation ago 70% of us walked to school, but just half of today's children do. More primary school aged children are driven to school than secondary school aged (38% and 24% respectively, according to National Travel Survey data), meaning swapping the school run for a school walk for this age group has the potential for the most significant benefit.
10 reasons why walking to school is good for you
1. It is a great way to increase your child's physical activity, along with your own (the recommended daily activity level for children is 60mins). The added benefit of walking is that it helps develop skills such as balancing, hopping, jumping whilst improving cardiovascular, bone and muscle fitness.
2. It improves sleep – regular daily exercise and exposure to natural light helps promote sleep at night. A fit and healthy body needs its sleep.
3. Helps mental health by boosting your child's mood and self esteem. This means that your child will arrive at school in a calmer state of mind able to cope with the day ahead.
4. This in turn will improve academic performance and increase grades.
5. Gives children good life experience and an opportunity to be independent. Allowing them to think for themselves and make their own decisions, a key attribute for future development.
6. The walk to school will give you the chance to talk to your children without the distractions of the home. This is an ideal opportunity to enforce some road safety messages.
7. You will have no more hassle from parking near to the school! However, if you live outside the school catchment area and have to drive, then park a reasonable distance from school and walk the rest of the way.
8. The reduced traffic will increase safety around school, reduce road congestion and pollution
9. Walking will reduce cost of running the car. It's frightening to consider that 20% of rush hour traffic is attributed to the school run!
10. According to a survey by Childwise, 48% of children would like to walk or cycle to school if they could.
The benefits of walking to school far outweigh taking the car so set yourself the challenge of walking to school this Walk to School week and see the difference a daily dose of fresh air can make! If you'd like to work out the best possible route to school, use OS Maps to find footpaths, greenspaces and smaller roads near you.