Calling all parents, caregivers and teachers, Walk To School Week is here, a fantastic national project put together by Living Streets. According to the organisation, the number of pupils who walk to school has dropped from 70% to less than half in just a couple of generations. It’s statistics like this that are a real eye-opener for the health of school children, and Walk to School week is also a great opportunity to encourage less congestion around schools. According to Living Streets, during peak traffic times, one in five cars on the road are taking children to school, contributing to carbon emissions and air pollution. In 2017, the number of children walking to school fell from 53% to 51% and with cars in the immediate vicinity of schools, this is causing higher pollution levels in the area. With this in mind, some schools up and down the country are implementing “park and stride” schemes to combat the issues of concentrated pollution levels.
In keeping with the Walk to School theme, here’s our top 3 most important reasons for why children should walk to school:
Walk more, learn more
The Danish project – the ‘Mass Experiment 2012’, carried out by researchers from Copenhagen and Aarhus Universities, found that children who walk to school have an increased power of concentration which lasts all morning. Almost 20,000 school children were involved in the experiment, and those who were taken to school in the car or via public transport, scored lower than the pupils who walked to school on the test measuring concentration levels. The original intention of the study was to look at how eating breakfast and lunch affected concentration in class, but astoundingly, the researchers found that exercise had an even better impact. If kids are walking to school and complementing this with getting active at lunch time, they can be sure to have a focused and productive day.
Walk the walk, talk the talk
Walking to school can give children a chance to get social and chat with their friends, encouraging a positive effect on their emotional wellbeing. As well as this, if pupils are walking to school, they’re given the opportunity to increase independence and develop their road sense – being in the car everyday inhibits this and doesn’t make the brain aware of the route to school. It’s also a chance for parents to take time to check in with their children and find out how they’re doing with school. Some schools have a Walking Bus scheme in place which is a fantastic way to encourage walking to school, with children wearing reflective jackets and picking up their classmates up from bus stops on set routes.
A good start leads to a healthy heart
A walk to school does children the world of good, promoting the development of cardiac and respiratory capacity – even more so if they’re walking home too. After a day of sitting in the classroom, the walk home from school is a chance to decompress and break up the time between sitting in school and then at home too. For some year groups, there’ll be homework to complete, so a refreshing walk home is ideal for clearing the mind and recharging. More lengthy periods of walking will have the greatest effect on health, and it tones the whole body, strengthening the leg muscles, feet and arms. The modern society we live in today involves a lot of screen time, which can replace taking part in regular physical activity, but it’s important to introduce a healthy and active lifestyle from a young age to help prevent the issues that are associated with excess weight gain.
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