Are We Driving Our Kids to Unhealthy Habits?

Posted on Tuesday June 25, 2013 at 02:40PM

(This is a partial article from active healthy kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth) 2013

Active transportation-walking, biking, in-line skating and skateboarding to get to and from places such as school, parks and shops--has long been known to be an important source of physical activity for children and youth. If children walked for all trips of less than one kilometer rather than being driven, they would take an average of 2,238 additional steps per day! This translates to approximately 15-20 minutes of walking and thus has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the 60 minutes of daily phyiscal activity kids need for overall health. Imagine the potential impact this small change could have on increasing overall physcial activity levels in Canadian kid!

One of the great things about active transportation is that i can be easily integrated into everyday life with little or even no cost. And its benefits are significant. Active transportation could help to reverse the recent decline in rates of walking and biking for transportation, and thus presents a major opportunity for improving health among children and youth. Research suggests that, given the choice, most children would prefer to walk or bike to school rather than take a bus or be driven by their parents.

In addition to improving overall physical health, active transportation may;

  • Improve fitness and heart health
  • Increase academic achievement
  • Provide social opportunities
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve air quality and reduce risk of lung diseases...

STEPS WE CAN TAKE:

Parents should:

  • Encourage and support their children to actively travel to and from school as well as to other destinations (friend's houses, parks, etc.)
  • Share responsibility for supervision parents for supervision of younger kids as they travel to and from school and activities (e.g. take turns leading a walking school bus).
  • Park the car a short distance from the school and/or other destinations and walk from there when it is not possible for their kids to walk the whole way.

School administrators should:

  • Ensure that bike racks are provided in highly visible areas on school property
  • Consider children's travel neds when deciding where to build new schools
  • Facilitate the implementation of school travel plans, walking school buses, road safety education and other measures to ensure active and safe routes to school.

Policy makers should:

  • Develop joint planning mechanisms and protocols to ensure that the built environment supports walking and biking as an easy choice for children and youth.
  • Encourage employers to offer flexible hours that woul allow parents to support active travel opportunities for their kids
  • Enforce traffic-calming measures in communites around schools and parks (zebra crossings, speed bumps, sidewalks, flashing lights etc.

 

Author: Town of Oxbow

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