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What are the benefits of walking to school?

Walk to school week girl

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 of 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.

Why should children walk to school?

1. It energises their brain

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

2. It reconnects children to their 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. It promotes the development of 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. Practising road safety on the way to school each day is a perfect opportunity to hone this vital skill.

4. It creates 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. It's a social activity

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.

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 20th to the 24th of 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 2024, the theme of the week is The Magic of Walking – this is designed to encourage children to travel actively to school every day of the week, while having multiple magical experiences along the way. Each day has a different magical focus, including:

  • Day 1: The magic of nature

  • Day 2: The magic of walking

  • Day 3: The magic of happiness

  • Day 4: The magic of friendship

  • Day 5: The magic of community

This five day adventure will help your children to learn about the important reasons to walk or wheel whenever possible, and the benefits this can bring to individuals, communities and the planet.

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!

Here at Start-Rite, all of our shoes are designed to not only support physical development but also make your child feel comfortable. After all, if your child is feeling comfortable in their school shoes and likes the way they look and feel, they are far more likely to want to walk to school. That’s why, as a brand, we encourage lots of activity, from a child’s very first step all the way to their final days as a student. Check out our school shoes collection to find out more.