Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Stay Fit & Healthy: Walking & Biking to School

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Stay Fit & Healthy: Walking & Biking to School

Article excerpt

Getting ready for a new school year is an exciting time for families. New school supplies, lunch boxes, backpacks and the anticipation of meeting new teachers and seeing old friends are all part of the back-to-school preparation. After a summer of healthy routines and fitness, you may want to consider extending these healthy practices into the school year by encouraging your children to walk or ride their bikes to school.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States has seen a decrease in the number of children who are physically active and an increase in the number of children who are overweight. Walking or biking to school supports physical activity as an essential part of a child's daily routine. Not only will children get that necessary exercise every day, but they may also realize the following potential benefits:

* Weight and blood pressure control

* Bone, muscle and joint health and maintenance

* Reduction in the risk of diabetes

* Improved psychological welfare

* Better academic performance

Walking or biking to school may also contribute to the developmental health of children. Having access to their neighborhoods and other children outside of school can offer opportunities for independence and decision-making. Children may benefit from learning fundamental pedestrian and bicycling skills as walkers or cyclists.

You may be asking several questions at this point. How do I know if my neighborhood provides the safety my child needs to walk or bike to school? How do I determine if my child is ready to handle walking or biking to school? You can find the answers to these questions and many more by visiting Safe Routes to School, a website supported by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state and federal government agencies to improve the health and well-being of children through walking and biking to school. …

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