Five Good Reasons to Walk to School
Benefits of Walking to School
Over the past 20 years, the percentage of children travelling to school by car has doubled, almost 40% of primary and 20% of seconday age children are now driven to school each day. Most of these journeys are less than two miles. Walking to school is good for the environment and it eases congestion. On a personal level, there are health, financial and even social benefits to leaving the car at home.
Walk to School Week is held nationally twice a year to encourage all children to try walking to school.
Walk to School to Improve Academic Achievement
A study recently undertaken by the California Department of Education shows a direct link between academic achievement and the physical fitness of school pupils. The Study confirmed that fitness in children can be improved, not only by formal sports education but also by everyday fun activities with friends and family members, such as walking to school every day. Similarly, teachers report that children who have walked to school arrive more wide awake and ready to learn - nine in ten teachers in a recent Department for Transport survey consider that the walk to school makes children brighter, more alert and ready for the first class of the day.
Walk to School for Experience
Young people starting secondary school are less likely to be involved in road accidents if they have previous experience of walking to school, says a report from the AA. Many eleven and twelve year olds are reluctant to let their parents take them to their new school despite usually having to travel further and cross unfamiliar roads. Previous experience of walking to school with parents, or even a group of friends, provides invaluable experience enabling children to cope with being on the roads by themselves.
Walk to School to Combat Obesity
In test carried out on children, it was seen that, on average, children use more calories travelling to and from school than they would from two hours of PE. The younger children who walk use about 75% of the number of calories travelling to and from school that they would from two hours of PE. The older children use over one third more in walking than they do in two hours of PE, especially the boys. The children who travel by car use about half the calories travelling to and from school than they would in two hours of PE.
A Study by Roger L Mackett of the Centre for Transport Studies, University College London has shown that the journey to and from school offers the opportunity to obtain about the same amount, or possibly even more, physical activity than a two hour PE lesson at school.
Walk to School because its What Children Want
Nearly half (48%) of children would like to walk or bike to school even more if they could, says a new survey carried out by a specialist child research agency, ChildWise, in partnership with the Department of Transport (DfT) in 2004.
Professor Stuart Biddle, Professor of Exercise & Sport Psychology, Loughborough University said:
"Building exercise into your day is all-important, especially for children. Even leaving the car at home and walking half an hour a day is going to benefit them greatly and prepare them well for adulthood. Parents should listen to what their kids want and try to encourage this wherever possible".
A similar study by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, found that 51% of children driven to school would prefer to walk or cycle with friends.
Walk to School for Financial and Social Benefits
The school run can mean significant cost implications, with families spending over £300 annually on the drive to school in petrol costs and wear and tear to the average car. Children who walk to school learn more about their local environment - they find out who their neighbours are and make friends as they chat to other children on the way to school.
Last updated: 2nd March 2012