A recent NHS report showed that between 2015-16 in the UK, just over 20% of children between the ages of 4-5 were classed as being overweight or obese and just over 33% of children between 10-11 were classed as being obese or overweight.
As more and more schools in the UK report the increasing levels of child obesity, very low levels of physical activity and large declines in children cycling or walking to school, something has got to be done!
Chief medical officers in England have recommended that all children (despite their age) should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every single day and it should be broken up throughout the day. So the best thing to do is to have 30 minutes of activity at school and 30 minutes more when the child is at home. Research shows that on average, 42% of children do not get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day.
Research has indicated that in 2016, 46% of children traveled to school by car however when asked, a whopping 78% of them said that they would prefer to travel to and from school by either walking or riding a bike. Despite this, apparently in 2016 only 1-2% of children actually did ride their bike or walk to school regularly.
The average distance from primary schools to the pupils home is 1.5 miles, which would take a child around 30 minutes each way to walk or 10-15 minutes to cycle. If children walked or cycled to school everyday, this would mean that they would be getting there daily 60 minutes of physical activity.
If we encourage children to walk, cycle or even scoot to school, this will reduce congestion and especially car pollution around schools. One of the great benefits of getting your children to travel by bike or on foot is that this will increase not just their physical health but their mental health as well.
Research shows that teachers notice that children that cycle or walk to school are a lot more relaxed and more awake and ready to start the school day, compared to the pupils that have traveled by car or public transport. These children appear to be less awake and alert, which could effect their ability to learn.
Teaching about road safety is something every parents wants to teach their child, to make sure that they will be safe and aware of any dangers when travelling on their own. It’s also a great way for children to learn about independence.
Long term effects:
It has been predicted that by the year 2050, 70% of young girls and 55% of young boys will be classed as obese. However, if we carry on to encourage children to focus on a healthy life style, including daily fitness this could prevent child obesity from increasing.
Our top tips to get your children cycling or walking to school:
- If your child wants to cycle to school but they don’t feel confident riding on their own, sign them up to a cycling training class. This is a really great way to increase your child’s confidence on busier roads.
- Try to encourage your child to find a friend to cycle with. This is a brilliant way to make friendships and it also makes the morning route more fun for them.
- Plan a route with your child and try to find cycle friendly roads and paths.
- Practice the route in advance. Test our the route with your children at the weekend when the roads are more likely to be quiet.
- Accompany your child for the first few days, to make sure that they’re comfortable.