Get Healthy: Today is walk to school day; go pound the pavement
October 9, 2013
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Do you like to move it, move it? Kids in Carson City do.
Today, kids across the city and the region will fire up their feet and walk to school. When they arrive, they will be greeted with fun incentives and recognition. However, that's just a bonus.
"Really, the walk isn't about the prizes," said Cindy Hannah, the chronic disease prevention manager at Carson City Health and Human Services. "It's about helping the kids to learn about safety, develop healthy habits, and have fun transportation choices."
Walk or Bike to School Day is a great way to show families that they have options for getting around town other than using an automobile. Walking can be a choice that is fun and inviting for everyone, both young and old. For those who live too far to walk to school, some schools will offer a walk at school on the track or playground, so those kids can participate after the bus drops them off in the morning. For parents who normally drop their children off at school, it may be fun to try walking. Park a few blocks away from school and walk from there to get in some physical activity and walk together.
Here are some reasons to support walking to school:
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It's fun: Walking brings a sense of joy and independence and can be a source of quality time for families.
Healthier habit: The trip to school is a chance for children (and adults!) to get the physical activity they need.
Cleaner environment: Replacing car trips to school with walking can reduce congestion and air-polluting emissions.
Promoting safety: Building sidewalks, providing education programs and adding traffic calming measures are some of the ways to improve safety. Encouraging walking and to school can help build support for infrastructure improvements in the community.
Community benefits: Reducing traffic congestion, boosting a sense of community, and improving neighborhood connections benefit the community.
Better achievement: Studies show kids who are more physically active perform better in school.
Walking to school is fun and healthy, and it should be safe. Parents, talk to your kids about safety before letting them walk to school, and make sure they understand what to do if they feel unsafe or if someone they don't know approaches them. If you're walking, remember to look both ways before crossing, walk against traffic on the sidewalk if one is available, wear brightly colored clothing so drivers can see you, and make sure it's safe before you step into the street.