Healthy steps for kids this May

Coral Park Primary School students walk to school. Picture: FILE PIC 174632_03

Primary school aged children across Australia will take some important steps towards a healthier future by participating in National Walk Safely to School Day on Friday 14 May.

National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that aims to raise awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking, especially to and from school, can provide for the long term well-being of children.

Apart from the physical benefits, regular walking also has a favourable impact on their cognitive and academic performance.

The annual event, now celebrating its 22nd anniversary, encourages primary school aged children to build walking into their daily routine, by walking to and from school, not just on Friday 14 May, but every day.

Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia said: “The extremely disturbing childhood obesity epidemic continues to affect one in four children at critical levels across Australia.

“Unless teachers, parents, carers and the community generally get behind this event and its objectives, this number will never decrease.

“The best exercise for all of us is regular walking. Children require at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity.

“We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day”, he said.

The national initiative also promotes improved diets by asking schools and parent committees to host a healthy breakfast, positive environmental action, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and the vitally important road safety message: until they are 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road.

It also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, while minimising the risk of Australian children developing heart disease and diabetes.

Top five tips for parents to get their kids walking to school:

1. Walk some or if you can, walk all the way to school

2. Get off the bus, train, or tram a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way

3. Leave the car at least one kilometre away from school and walk the rest of the way

4. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier to fit in a walk to school

5. If you can’t walk in the morning, walk home after school