For many people, September is synonymous with back-to-school activities and a return to one’s pre-summer routine. For others, it signifies a return to the joys of active transport methods and the pleasure that comes with going to school or work by foot, bicycle or rollerblades.
According to the 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, only 24% of Canadian children, aged 5 to 17 take active modes of transport (walk, bicycle, etc.) to get to school, compared to 58% of their parents when they were of the same age. Many of the reasons cited to explain the decrease in physical activity are due to lack of time, less security for children and too long of a distance to commute.
Based on the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, children aged 1 to 4 years old should have at least 180 minutes of physical activity per day, and those aged 5 to 11 years old should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Walking or using one’s bicycle to commute to school is a great way to include physical activity in one’s daily routine for children and their parents. Active transport methods not only increase the amount of physical activity that people get, but they also help improve one’s health, and assist with children’s academic abilities (reducing stress, better test results, better concentration and better sleep).
Here are some tips to help you integrate active modes of transport into your routine:
- Wear weather appropriate clothes for the temperature (rain, wind, cold, etc.)
- If the children in your care are too young to walk to daycare on their own, create a partnership with another family from your neighbourhood. Then you and they can alternate accompanying them to daycare each day.
- Give yourself time when commuting in order to take advantage of precious moments in the company of your children.
- If you live too far away to use active transport, park your vehicle a few blocks away from your final destination and walk with your children until you arrive.
- With help from other parents and the school, put in place a system of “active and safe routes” giving children a chance to safely move around by foot or on their bicycles.
Report Card On Physical Activity for Children and Youth: Is Canada in the Run-ning?, Active Healthy Kids Canada, http://www.activehealthykids.ca/ReportCard/
Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, www.csep.ca/guidelines
Cameron, Catherine. “Active transportation makes sense for kids”, ParticipACTION, May 2nd, 2014, http://www.participaction.com/active-transportation-makes-sense-for-kids-too/
Fireman, Lori. ”7 ways to get your kids to walk to school smiling, even in winter“, Active for Life, March 17, 2014, http://activeforlife.com/get-your-kids-to-walk-to-school-smiling/
Kyllo, Blaine. “The joy of biking to school“, Active for Life, September 17, 2012, http://activeforlife.com/biking-to-school/