Australia’s 3.7 million children will return to school this week. Sadly not enough of them will walk or ride a bike to get there.
The Australian Health Policy Collaboration today called for national action on active travel to school. Walking or riding to school is an easy way for young people to stay active and sets them up with healthy habits for life.
Active Travel: pathways to a healthy future urges governments at to work together to support walking, scooting and cycling to school.
More than 70% of Australia’s children are not active enough. This puts them at risk of developing diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and living shorter lives than their grandparents.
Walking, riding a bike or scooter to and from school – all or part way – is a simple way to boost activity levels in children.
Director, Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC), Victoria University, Professor Rosemary Calder says: “As a nation, we have stopped moving. We are putting our children’s lifetime health at risk because of our reliance on driving our children to and from school. We have taken away the opportunity for them to get enough daily exercise by walking, riding or scooting to school, safely and together as school communities.
“Parents think they are protecting their children from potential harm by driving them to school. This isn’t the case in the short term – children are much more likely to be injured being driven to school rather than walking or riding. Also, children who are driven to school and don’t get their daily 60 minutes of exercise are more likely to have serious health problems when they are older.”
“Nationally we need to help parents and carers feel safe about active travel for their children. For primary school children, setting up drop off zones some distance from each school so that children could walk independently under supervision at least some of the distance to school would rapidly improve children’s physical activity levels.” – Professor Rosemary Calder.
Remember – you can ride on the footpath with your children (under 12).