Walking to School

Good for you, your family, and the planet!

During these unprecedented times, many people are rediscovering the simple joys and benefits of walking in their community. Walking helps adults and children stay active and deal with stress even on difficult days. Whether hiking on a trail or strolling by the shops, walking can weave seamlessly into everyday life.

If you have children, one simple and surefire way to support their happiness is to encourage the daily habit of walking to and from school. Studies show that children who walk, cycle or ride a bus for transportation, at least some of the time, are likely to grow into young adults who walk, cycle and use transit. By walking to school, children build positive attitudes toward active and sustainable transportation – benefiting themselves and the planet! And if you are working from home and have lost your regular activity of walking to the bus, walking to get lunch, or even walking around your business space, the walk to school can become a healthy part of your routine too, for mind and body.

Walking to school can be a golden opportunity to connect with your child and enjoy the outdoors together. Active time in nature bolsters everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. Whether your route to school passes under a big tree, past a favourite garden, or through a park, you can share and enjoy nature with your child.

Children notice changes through the seasons and enjoy walking in all kinds of weather. Even when it is raining or snowing, there is so much to see in the world! Be sure to wear clothing that allows for a comfortable and enjoyable stroll. You’ll spend more time noticing the little things if you don’t have to worry about cold fingers and toes!

The walk to school is a time to share important skills with young children, like how to engage with neighbours, be respectful of spaces, and navigate sidewalks and streets. Take the opportunity to help them learn by asking them “what would you do?” questions. Before you know it, they will be ready and confident enough to walk with their friends to school, and you’ll be missing your daily jaunts!

Try walking this week!

If you or your partner are working from home right now, you may have some additional flexibility in your schedule. Try taking turns walking with your child to and from school. It will be a great start to your work day, too!

If your child takes the school bus, you can still get creative with the walk to the bus stop. Why not leave a bit early and take a round-about route, just for fun? Everyone can benefit from the physical exercise and the boost to mental health.

Is your child learning from home? How about starting the day with a walk to “turn on” their brains before they “turn on” their screens? Outdoor time is vital for kids learning at home, and arguably just as vital for their multi-tasking parents.

If you usually drive your child to school, you can still add walking into the routine. Try parking a little ways away from the school and enjoy a five or ten-minute walk with your child. Even a short walk boosts brain function and helps children arrive focused and ready to learn.

More reasons to walk…

According to the 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card, only 39% of Canadian children (ages 5-17) are getting the recommended “60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.” Being active in childhood has many benefits such as improving memory, increasing attention span, reducing anxiety, and building self-esteem. The ParticipACTION report concludes that “families are critical influencers in children’s physical activity and healthy habits.”

A daily walk to and from school is a wonderful way to build regular physical activity and time in nature into your family routine. These days, having a routine is comforting and more important than ever!

Walking to school is a simple action that has positive benefits for your family, your community and our planet, and it is one of the easiest ways to work exercise and outdoor time into your days. Get out and enjoy a walk today!

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