Is Walking to School Good for Children?
Walking to school is a highly recommended practice for children. Most health science societies suggest that minors should travel to schools on foot or by bicycle.
Today, most children use motorized transportation to go from home to their educational institutions. Therefore, this initiative is a way to counteract childhood sedentary lifestyle, which is increasing day after day.
Below, we’ll tell you all the benefits that are obtained by adopting this healthy lifestyle habit. Keep reading!
Walking to school is everyone’s job
Walking to school isn’t the exclusive responsibility of children. First of all, parents must ensure compliance with this type of physical activity, which can become a complicated task.
You have to know that the environments in which children operate aren’t all the same and that, in some cases, walking alone is risky. Therefore, walking to school should be an activity constantly supervised by an adult.
As a parent, we recommend that you not only accompany your child to school but also encourage them to walk more often when you go to different places. If you can manage it a bit, you can turn this activity into a real outing.
In the event that you don’t have the option of accompanying them to school every day, you can find a group of parents in the neighborhood whose children go to the same school and who you can trust. If you divide the days among you, you can guarantee the accompaniment of all of your children throughout the week.
Why is walking to school good?
The Environmental Health and Health Promotion Committees of the Spanish Pediatric Association have expressed the need to encourage the population to allow children to walk to school. This is due to the high rates of sedentary lifestyles that have been recorded in recent years.
This institution has taken notice of the scarce use of active transport (on foot or by bicycle) when going to school and points out that the majority of children travel in motor vehicles (cars, motorcycles, or buses).
At the same time, the World Health Organization recommends that children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17 invest at least 60 minutes a day in the practice of some type of physical activity.
Such recommendations include simple tasks such as walking to school or traveling by some other active means of transport, such as cycling.
In addition to the above, walking offers various health benefits for all people, regardless of their age or gender. For this reason, children, youth and adults can take advantage of this type of activity every day.
The benefits of staying active
The main objective of the walk is for children to have an active lifestyle and to benefit physically and psychologically. Next, we’ll tell you all the positive aspects of adopting the habit of walking to school.
1. Promotes cardiovascular capacity
Walking regularly contributes to the well-being of the body and stands out as an aerobic physical activity. Among the most important benefits, we can highlight the increase in vital capacity and cardiovascular health, aspects that gradually improve.
Walking to school makes children exert themselves physically. This causes an increase in heart and respiratory rates, which optimizes obtaining oxygen from the environment.
2. Strengthens muscle tone
By walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day, the muscles are forced to stay active. For this reason, this activity contributes to the strengthening of muscle tone and the development of all the child’s physical capacities (such as strength, endurance, and balance).
3. Reduces the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle
One of the most important points of adopting this habit is to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, especially in children.
Through walking, it’s possible to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), among which excess weight and obesity stand out.
4. Improves emotional health
The benefits of physical activity in children aren’t limited to the physical and physiological aspects, but also to the socio-emotional sphere.
A child who walks to school on a regular basis improves their self-esteem and increases their social skills to build good interpersonal relationships. Especially when they share moments with other children on the way to school.
How to encourage walking in children?
Beyond promoting walking in general, it’s best to encourage the habit of walking to school every day.
In the first place, it’s the task of parents to constantly monitor children up to 7 years of age, at least. In some parts of the world, promotional programs have been developed, not only to motivate children but also to have safe routes.
For example, in the United States, the Safe Routes program is carried out, which consists of providing safe paths for children to walk to school, on bicycles, or on skateboards.
This program is an example of what cities and parents must do to achieve safe routes and thus ensure that their children enjoy the benefits of maintaining an active life.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Comité de salud medioambiental y Comité de promoción de la salud. (2019). AEP, Madrid. Caminando al cole: un modelo para innovar en salud de los niños y medio ambiente. Disponible en: https://www.aeped.es/sites/default/files/documentos/caminando_al_cole2septiembre2_1.pdf
- Rescatado de la página web Safe Route, back 2 school. (2020). https://www.saferoutespartnership.org/
- Rescatado de la página web «Al cole andando» para sanear los entornos escolares. (2020). https://ciudadesquecaminan.org/noticias/informacion/al-cole-andando-para-sanear-los-entornos-escolares/
- Rodrigo Molina Zúñiga. (1998). Revista Costarricense de Salud Pública. El ejercicio y la salud, “La Caminata”, beneficios y recomendaciones. Disponible en: https://www.scielo.sa.cr/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1409-14291998000100007