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Turn the school run into a walk
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Turn the school run into a walk

Media Release - 10 September 2020

This Walk to School Safely Day (Friday September 11), the Heart Foundation and Walking SA are urging children and parents  to change their habits and get more active as they travel to and from school.

Heart Foundation CEO SA Imelda Lynch is encouraging families to put their health first by seeking out more active ways to do the school run and leave the car at home.

The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children get at least an hour of physical activity a day, but only one in five Australian children are currently meeting the guidelines.

 “This is a concern because physical activity is good for children’s physical health, it reduces the likelihood of childhood obesity, and it is also important when it comes to their mental health, academic performance and concentration in school,”  Ms Lynch said.
Walking, cycling or even scooting to and from school are some of the easiest ways to increase children’s activity levels.
National data shows that over the past 40 years, children walking and cycling to school has declined from 75 percent to 25 percent.

In South Australia on average 52 percent of school children live within two km of their school, but only 20 percent actively travel to or from school.

“This figure is worrying but could be improved if the school run was used as a way to incorporate  more activity into the daily routine,” Ms Lynch said.

Parents and caregivers will also benefit if they join their kids walking to school.

“Physical activity can help reduce the risk of heart disease in adults, which is the single leading cause of death in Australia, claiming 48 lives every day,” Ms Lynch said.

Walking SA Executive Director, Helen Donovan, said children who walk to school are happier, healthier, less stressed, and more attentive during the school day. Walking to school also offers the opportunity for strengthening social bonds with family and peers through the incidental chats that naturally occur. These healthy behaviours, when established in childhood, are more likely to be sustained into adulthood.

“Parents want the best for their kids. One of the ways to develop healthy, happy, confident kids is to build a walk into every day,” Dr Donovan said.

“Governments can help by shaping the urban environment for safe, enjoyable walking on connected networks. This requires more investment in pedestrian and cycle paths, safe crossings, and lower speeds on local roads,” she said.

The Heart Foundation is calling for the government to develop and fund a State-wide Walking Strategy. The strategy will aim to get more people walking more frequently including a focus on ensuring safe routes for children to walk to school.

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