Living Streets’ annual campaign, Walk to School Week, will be taking place between the 16th and 20th May. Getting children walking from a young age is an investment for life, providing the opportunity to create an active lifestyle habit that will last a lifetime. The benefits of being outside, in the Great Outdoors, is something of a passion at TG Escapes and we wholeheartedly support any initiatives that encourage children to get out there.
Walking requires no special or expensive gear: all you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and weather appropriate clothing and you are good to go. As a low impact activity, it is one of the safest ways to exercise and promotes good bone, muscle and joint health, and that’s just for starters in the list of walking health benefits. Walking an extra 20 minutes each day will burn off 7 pounds of body fat in a year and will help reduce the risk of contracting a number of diseases in later life including osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes.
Walking boosts energy levels, builds stamina and reduces stress. It creates feelings of calm and happiness and improves the ability to concentrate. A Department for Transport survey reported that 9 out of 10 teachers said that students who have walked to school are much more ready to learn. It is also an invaluable means to promote a child’s independence and freedom by allowing them to develop road awareness and responsible decision making, in readiness for independent walking as a teenager.
Walking is fun and engaging, allowing us to notice things on route, such as the changing seasons, local flora and fauna or the people in the neighbourhood. Walking with someone, whether it be your children, their friends or yours is pleasantly sociable: walking alone is deeply contemplative. And let us not forget the benefits to the environment and your pocket.
And if the sun is shining, there are many more health benefits to be gained from walking to school, especially first thing on a beautiful spring day, when all but the fairest of skins can tolerate a blast of the sun’s rays. Latest research from Sweden suggests that the positive impact from regular exposure to sunlight is not simply about the production of vitamin D. It also stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which protects our cardiovascular systems by widening the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. It is good for our eyesight, particularly in children, and regardless of age it elevates our serotonin levels, which makes us feel good.
With a wealth of helpful packs to get your school involved in Walk to School Week, it is well worth paying a visit to the Living Streets site, and doing your bit to encourage your students to get walking and arriving each day ready to learn. For many, it may set them on a lifelong journey towards better health and better educational outcomes: surely a lesson worth being taught.