Less than 50 years ago, more than half of all kids in the United States walked or biked to school every day. Today that number has dwindled to less than 15% of all school-aged children. Researchers attribute the decline to numerous things including weather and lack of safe routes but others argue that the benefits for your family are much greater than the risk of having your child get hurt or caught out in the rain.
As International Walk to School Day approaches on October 3, families should consider incorporating walking or biking to school into their morning routine as the benefits are numerous.
Creating Healthy Habits
Walking or biking to school, even once a week, will increase the amount of physical activity a child participates in lowering the chances of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and obesity.
As well as helping mom and dad save money on gasoline, walking to school will also help lower the amount of harmful emissions in the air, improving the air quality we breathe.
How kids do in school is most important and studies show that kids who have an active start to the day, like walking or biking, show improved mood and concentration at school as well as problem solving abilities. They also have less stress.
Walking or bicycling to school means that your child will need to learn the route. It's also a great chance for your kids to learn alternate routes to school as well as routes to friends and relatives houses in case of closures or unforeseen circumstances.
Biking and walking to school with neighborhood kids will help make new friends and will lower the number of cars outside a school making it safer for other kids who walk.
One of the largest concerns from parents, according to a University of Michigan researcher, was that there were no safe routes in place for children to walk. Online resources like WalkBikeToSchool.org can help find the best route. You can also reach out to other families in the neighborhood who walk to and from school and see what routes they use.
Establishing a routine like this in the home will make the mornings easier and more importantly give kids the responsibility of getting to and from school, making them more self-confident.