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Ditch the car and walk to school this week

22 May 2012
Ditch the car and walk to school this week
Ditch the car and walk to school this week

You’re late for work, the kids wouldn’t get out of bed or you’re simply too exhausted to contemplate anything but bundling them in the car for the trip to school.

There is a catalogue of valid reasons why any parent would opt for the easy ride over donning the trainers and marching the little ones to the school gates instead.

But, for Walk to School Week (May 21-25), campaigners are urging families to consider keeping the car in the drive and going by foot for just five days.

‘Why should I?’ you may well ask. Well, according to national pedestrians charity Living Streets there is a host of arguments why walking beats driving even on the most hectic of mornings.

Not least among them is the stark fact that road traffic has rocketed by 80 per cent in Britain since 1980.

And over the past 20 years the number of children travelling to school by car has doubled. Part of the reason is that the average length of the trip to school for children aged five to ten has increased over a similar period of time.

But the consequence of all this driving is having devastating effects on our children and their environment.

Living Streets points out that four out of ten boys and six out of ten girls “do not carry out the recommended minimum of one hour a day of physical activity”.

In the UK, around 27 per cent of children are overweight. Yet the Department of Health estimates that walking just two miles a day, three times a week can help reduce weight by one pound every three weeks.

Weight loss aside, though, what are the other benefits of walking? Here are just a few:

Start the day in a good mood

Research shows that even short-term and superficial exposure to natural areas through brief walks has positive effects on mood, reducing feelings of anger and anxiety

Cut stress

Studies show stress is increased by our immobility while driving – causing a build-up of tension. Walking, meanwhile, calms nerves and releases aggression

Save cash

Driving the average school run costs more than £400 a year not least because short journeys of around ten to 20 minutes result in very poor – i.e. costly - fuel consumption

Go green

Driving is thought to release around six times more CO2 emissions than flying – something that’s having a devastating effect on our environment. As the Government’s Directgov website on climate change points out, in the last 100 years, the Earth has warmed by 0.75 degrees Celsius. Global sea levels have gone up, glaciers and sea ice have melted, and extreme weather events, like floods and droughts, are likely to happen more often. Not great, then.

Save your health

Car exhaust fumes are linked to heart problems and respiratory disorders such as asthma – and that’s among kids as well as adults.

Living Streets says: “Last year over one million children in over 4000 schools ditched the school run as part of Walk to School Week.

“We understand that not everyone feels able to walk their children to school regularly. Walk to School Week is a great way to get those who do not normally walk with their children to school to give it a try.”

Will you?

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