Get moving: walk the school run
Walking to school is one of the best ways for your child to keep fit and healthy, but many children still miss out on this opportunity to exercise. Too many of us make excuses for not walking more, but we can also worry about keeping our children safe around the roads. However, the summer is a great time to take the first step towards a healthier future, for you and your children. Why not commit to walking your child to school every day in July? You might find it’s easier and a lot more fun than you were expecting.
Safe and sound
Walking to school can be easy and safe, and is often even quicker than taking the car given the traffic many of us end up sitting in during the school run. Even if you live too far away to manage the whole journey on foot, you can always park a little further from the school and enjoy a good walk before you get there.
Although many parents feel anxious about walking through a busy town like Southend, doing the school run on foot can actually help your child develop better road sense, along with a more responsible and self-reliant attitude.
Keeping out of the car can also be better for the environment, and for your pocket. Families who walk to school rather than drive can reduce their carbon footprint by about 86kg a year, and they can save as much as £400 over the same period.
The NHS recommends that children should be getting at least an hour of exercise every day but many children are missing this target, especially during term time. Walking to and from school can also be the most convenient way to ensure your child is getting plenty of regular exercise, helping them stay healthy now and develop healthy attitudes for the future.
Keeping active can help children’s bodies to build strong bones and muscles, burn off excess energy, and boost the immune system. It can also help protect against serious conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Physical activity is also great for mental wellbeing. People who walk regularly tend to feel happier, calmer and less stressed.
Walking can also help boost children’s confidence and focus, and pupils who arrive at school invigorated by their morning walk can also find it easier to settle down and concentrate when they get to the classroom.
Alongside the physical and mental benefits of walking, taking the time to walk to school together can also give you and your child the best possible start to the day. Your walk is a chance to talk and enjoy the world together, whether chatting about what’s gong on in your child’s life or stopping to look at flowers.
You can also enjoy plenty of chances to socialise, getting to know other people on their way to school and giving your children the chance to play and make new friends. Getting to know some of the other parents who live in your direction can be particularly useful if you need to find someone to share the responsibility for supervising the walk to school, or if you’re interested in developing more formal arrangements for a walking bus.
But perhaps the best thing about doing the school run on foot is that you get the same opportunity to walk and talk together at the end of the day. So put your best foot forward this summer, and walk to school.
1. LivingStreets: Walk to School Week.
2. NHS: Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Young People.
3. NHS Change for Life: Walking is Great Exercise Too!
4. PsychGuides: Anxiety Disorder Symptoms, Causes and Effects.
5. Time: Anxious Kids? Let Them Walk to School.
6. The Telegraph: Walking to School ‘Could Help Reduce Need for ADHD Drugs’.
7. Southend on Sea Borough Council: Walking to School.