What are the benefits of walking to school?

Walk to school week girl

Celebrate Walk to School Week with us and find out more about this year's campaign and the benefits of keeping your little ones active.

What are the benefits of walking to school?

There are many benefits to be found in the physical exercise of walking, and walking to school each day gives children the perfect opportunity to reach the government target of 60 minutes physical exercise per day, while also building a positive relationship with walking and exploring that will last a lifetime. A 2020 report by the Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise found less than 10% of primary aged children (5+ years) are meeting this Government target.

Sadly, the number of children walking to school is dropping. According to the National Travel Survey 51% of primary school children aged 5-10 years walk to school, down from 53% the previous year and significantly down from the 70% of children who walked to school in the previous generation.

Start-Rite shoes are designed to support children’s physical development and as a brand, we have always encouraged lots of movement from those first steps all the way through to the last days at Secondary School. Our shoes are up for the challenge. Shop our school shoes collection.

What is Walk to School Week?

Did you know that May is National Walking Month? During the month, Living Streets, an organisation founded to achieve a better walking environment in our local communities and to inspire people to walk more, organises a week-long celebration of the Walk to School. This year, Walk to School Week runs from 15th - 19th May. Living Streets has worked hard to raise awareness and has managed to inspire 2,000 schools to get involved in WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge.

For 2023, the theme of the week is Walk With Wildlife – this encourages children to travel actively to school every day of the week. Meeting various animals along the way, they'll learn about the important reasons to walk and the difference it can make for individuals, communities and the planet. Learn more about walk to school week.

If you are unable to walk to school, perhaps due to distance or the safety of the road infrastructure you must navigate, Living Streets suggests you park up a little further from the school gate than usual and walk the last few minutes. We are sure you will feel great for doing it!

Why should children walk to school?

1. Walking to school will energise your brain for the day.

When you exercise your body releases endorphin chemicals that trigger positive feelings, reduce stress, improve mood, sleep quality and even self-confidence.

2. Walking to school helps you re-connect to your surroundings.

We hear a lot about mindfulness for wellbeing and feeling connected to your local community is something that is highly recommended. Being alert and noticing new things on your walk each day will help children to feel pride in their community and at home in the surroundings outside. Point out nature, noises, and changes to the seasons as you walk to school to help your child connect to their locality.

3. Walking to school helps children develop road safety skills.

It’s critical to teach children at an early age about awareness of the road, dangers of vehicles and crossing safely. Not only is this an important life skill but it will also ensure that parents and carers can find more enjoyment connecting to the local surroundings while walking with young children. Practicing road safety on the way to school each day is a perfect opportunity to hone this vital skill.

4. Walking to school will foster a love of walking that lasts a lifetime.

Children who grow up with daily exercise will foster these habits for life. Sadly, it has been reported that 25% of primary aged children are found to be in the category of ‘obese’ and we know that for a variety of complex reasons it’s hard for children to get the exercise they need at home. Movement is key to developing a healthy body and releasing the calories we consumer. Taking a walk to and from school each day will contribute to a child’s developing body’s physical needs. We are proud to support The Daily Mile in their drive to improve physical activity in school aged children. Read more about our partnership with The Daily Mile.

5. Walking to school is great for socialising.

Whether you walk for exercise or to connect with your local environment, what’s certain is that walking together with someone else and experiencing the effects together will create a bond. Shared moments, passing the time together, making discoveries together are memories that will last a lifetime.

What age can a child walk to school alone?

There is no official guidance on the age that a child can walk to school alone. There are many variables on each walk, from the safety of the road infrastructure to the age and confidence of the child. A parent or carer must make this judgement themselves, but we would always encourage adults to walk with children so that more of the family can feel the benefits of the walk to school together.