Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The benefits of walking to school

The sun is shining and the mornings are bright - it's a great excuse to try and encourage our kids to get more active. We know how difficult it is to get organised in the morning and that the school run is often the most stressful time of the day for most parents, however, with a few small tweaks to your schedule we hope you’ll soon see the benefits that a simple walk to school can bring to your kids – and your family.

Walking makes you smarter

Evidence suggests that children who have done some exercise earlier in the day arrive at school brighter and more alert. Walking gets the blood flowing round the body and our brains working, which increases the creativity they need to help them once they’re in the classroom. Park a little distance away from school – even if it’s just around the corner. It's enough to kick-start our bodies and get us ready for the day ahead.

Walking encourages independence

While we’re not suggesting that all children should walk to school by themselves, there is a lot to be said for allowing our children a little more independence. It enables them to think responsibly and helps them to make decisions for themselves. Maybe this week you could arrange for them to meet you at a set location a little distance away from the school gate? This has the added bonus of avoiding the pick up traffic too. As well as the exercise, the skills your children will learn will also help them be more independent at home.

Walking lifts the mood

Walking (and other forms of exercise) help release feel good chemicals into the body, which has a calming effect on the mind and an energising effect on the body. Whatever the age of your child, walking will be beneficial on their mood. And if they're doing exams, walking is a great way to manage exam stress. 

Walking helps you appreciate nature

We all know that our children are not spending as much time outside as we used to when we were kids – there are far too many distractions inside for them to venture far. But it’s not just fresh air and exercise they miss out on by being inside the house or travelling by car, they’re missing out on the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful nature around them. By carving out the time to walk to / from school every day, we are providing our children with the chance to see how things grow, learn about life cycles and appreciate the seasons. Perhaps if there really isn’t time for you to do the walk with your children yourself, you could enquire about any ‘walking school bus’’ schemes that may have been set up or develop a walking syndicate with other parents to share the time burden?

Walking rocks

Once you’ve started to encourage your children to walk more, chances are it’ll be something you want to continue. It’s a cheap and simple way for them to get the exercise they need to keep mentally and physically alert and healthy. The key to an ongoing love of walking is to make the walk interesting. You may have seen the growing trend of rock painting? Like a low tech version of ‘Pok√©mon Go’, rock painting ingeniously encourages children to be more creative and more active.

There’s no denying that walking to school – even part of the way – requires you to be super organised in the morning. Here are some tips for keeping your morning routine on track:
  • Make sure bags are packed and uniform sorted the night before
  • Prepare breakfasts and lunchboxes in advance, 
  • Help children take responsibility for their own morning routine

With childhood obesity on the rise, the temptation to stay inside with electronic devices ever growing and an increasing pressure on parents to do more in less time, we can’t promise you that getting your children to walk more will be easy – but it will certainly be worth it!

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