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Boost Your Child’s Education: Walk or Bike to School

Guest post by Anne Taylor Hartzell, Hip Travel Mama blogger

Families bikingEveryone knows the benefits of exercise–but did you know that your child’s exercise regimen actually impacts how well they perform in class? In a recent study by Professor Niels Egelund of Aarhus University in Denmark, it was discovered that children who walk or bike to school concentrate far better and longer than their carpooling counterparts.

The study of 19,527 school children ages 5-19 found that there is a strong connection between diet and exercise and a child’s ability to concentrate. It also showed that children who exercise more than two hours a week outside of school have an advantage over other students during the school day.

That advantage has garnered the attention of parents all over the United States, and in response, several different programs are now being implemented in communities across the nation, hoping to inspire young children to ditch the daily car commute to the classroom.

One program, Safe Routes to School, contributes to this cause nationally. They help communities build safe routes to schools so that parents and their children can feel comfortable heading to school on bikes or on foot. Safe Routes also provides school and community groups with funding for training, awareness, and strategies to encourage children to walk and bike to school.

Inspired to get your kid on the road to better health and a better education? Here are a few tips to get moving:

  • Find Your Walk Score: First, do a search to get your Walk Score and map out your neighborhood’s walk/bike to school routes.
  • Form a Community Walk Group: Safe Routes suggests forming a community group with families in your neighborhood and working together to begin the process of making transportation without a car a great option.
  • Engage Your School: Speak with your child’s school about the possibility of joining a program like Safe Routes to make sure that all aspects of your child’s life support trying a new commute—and reaping the rewards.
  • Join International Walk to School Month in October and commit to walk/bike with your child to school throughout the month.

What are ways you are making walking or biking to school a priority? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Wisconsin Bike Fed

Join Kids Walk to School Movement

Parents walk children to schoolHave you done it yet? Ever? Walking your kids to school has a myriad of benefits for families, their health, the environment and local communities. Kids learn from their parents the value of a feet-first mindset. Who knows? When your kids grow up and commute to work someday, perhaps they’ll recall school morning and/or afternoon walks and opt out of being a daily single-car driver. With fast, nationwide broadband internet spreading across the country these days, maybe they’ll just be walking to a coffee shop to work remotely!

October is International Walk to School Month. Oct. 3, 2012 is Walk to School Day with some neighborhoods creating a “walking school bus” to pick up kids en route to school. Join thousands of parents and kids who take a foot-friendly commute to school this fall. One day can make an impact.

Seattle-area mom, Anne, shares why her family values walking to school and shifting their suburban lifestyle to live more locally and drive less:

“As parents, we all want the very best for our kids. Best education. Best neighborhood. Best community. As moms, we spend a considerable amount of time in the car, running kids to school, to soccer and a host of other activities. Not only does driving around get expensive, but it can also take away precious family time and feel like you are living in the car.

“After spending three years commuting 30 minutes each way to school and activities, our family made a commitment to localize – schools, activities and daily routine – in an effort to drive less. Kids grow quickly and we want to spend quality time connecting face to face with our kids and not looking at them in the rear view mirror.”

Dad finds quality time on walks to school

Ed, a Seattle dad, has walked to school for years: “The daily walk to and from school with my daughter is one of the greatest treasures of being a parent. For 10 or 15 minutes each way, we’re completely free from the day’s distractions of work, homework, chores, music, TV, web–whatever. It’s just the two of us and whatever is on our minds. Quality time of the highest degree.”

Join the movement to get kids walking or biking to school. Why? Safe Routes to School stats show a 20th-century US trend away from kids walking to school.

  • In 1969, 48 % of kids 5 to 14 years of age walked or biked to school
  • In 2009, 13 % of kids 5 to 14 years of age walked or biked to school

Let’s reverse that trend in the 21st century.

Walkable Schools on Education.com

In 1969, 42% of children walked or biked to school.

In 2001, 16% of children walked or biked to school1.

During a similar time period childhood obesity increased from 6.5% to 17%2.

These stats are striking: about 2.5 times fewer children walk to school and about 2.5 times more children are obese.

Walk Scores for Schools

Wouldn’t you want your child’s school to be a walkers’ paradise? We’re excited to announce that Education.com is now showing Walk Scores for schools!

School Data on Walk Score

We’re also showing Education.com’s school data on all Walk Scores in the United States:

We’ll be doing more with walkable schools in the future—and we’re excited about this first step!