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Why you should get the kids walking to school

Lifestyle — Posted 28/09/15

Walking to school is an easy way to boost your child’s activity ­– and it can help improve their social skills, road safety knowledge and self-confidence.

Growing bodies need plenty of exercise to feel strong and energised, and to build themselves up for a healthy future. Children who learn to love being active are developing positive habits that will help them to stay fit and healthy later in life.

So how much activity should they be doing? The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines suggest children and teenagers aged 5-17 should get moving for at least 60 minutes each day. However, recent reports show that just 20% of young Australians are meeting this recommendation.

One simple, fun and free way to help your child boost their activity levels is to encourage them to walk to school. Regular walking is great for maintaining a healthy weight, building strong bones and muscles, and improving balance and coordination.

Plus, walking to school can help kids to develop their social skills and knowledge of road safety, as well as improving their sense of control, independence and confidence in making their way around their world.

Tips for walking to school

VicHealth’s Walk to School campaign encourages parents to get primary school children walking, riding or scooting to and from school this October. Whether you walk together as a family, or you decide your child is ready to walk independently, getting moving can make a real positive difference in your child's life.

To help you get stated, VicHealth shares the following tips:

• Walk together. If your child is too young to travel to school alone, walking with them can be a fantastic way to get active as a family – so everybody benefits!

• Build up road safety knowledge. Teach your children road safety and navigation skills by riding or walking around your neighbourhood.

• Find some walking buddies. Arrange for your child to walk with other families or friends – that way, walking can become a social activity.

• Just walk part way. If you live too far away to walk, park the car a few blocks from the school and walk the rest of the way.

• Get older children involved. Chat with your neighbours about setting up buddy groups of older children who can walk or ride together with the younger ones.

• Mix it up. Riding a bike or scooter is great exercise too!

• Start small. To get your child ready to start walking independently, drive part of the way to school and let them walk just a short distance on their own – or walk with them at a distance.

Find more tips and ideas and register for Walk to School month this October at walktoschool.vic.gov.au

Extra   Learn more about how to encourage active kids.
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