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Kids and How They Get to School

Posted by Nirmala N.

I recently read a study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that asserts that even though one out of three American kids lives within a mile of their school, barely half of those regularly bike or walk to class. Children who live in the South, in rural areas, or who have college-educated parents are among those least likely to bike or walk to school. On top of this, nearly one in five (18.8 percent) children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight. The study authors think that children in urban areas might be more likely to bike or walk because schools may be in mixed-use neighborhoods, which may mean safer sidewalks, etc. Did you bike or walk to school when you were younger (if you lived close by)? If not, what do you think were some of the factors that kept you from doing so? And if you're a parent now, do you usually drive your kids to school? How do you ensure that they receive adequate exercise?
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Its about saftey. My middle school was a little over a mile from home and my mother always drove me to school and I would take the bus home. I think many parents don't look at going to and from school as exercise, rather how their child will get to and from school safely (especially nowadays). My high school was about 7 miles from home, and it would have been difficult to navigate around the freeway. Besides, I don't think many parents worry about their children exercising because it's typically not a concern at a young age. Most children are active with sports and playing at school.
Creating the Best for Your Kids. Face it. As parents we want the best for your kids, safety comes first in today's world. Fitness for kids starts at home and it goes from there. From what I have seen, if the parents are active, the kids are active. Walking or riding a bike to school in this society is not safe for a young child. Hence, driving is the only way to get them there, unless the parent has the time to walk or ride their bike with them to school. My daughter (seven) is enrolled in a Fitness class at our gym. She loves it. She has never been overweight and is very active, so the is not why she enrolled. This class is great. She learns about eating right, avoiding too much TV and computer games. She gets to play games and workout with other kids. Doesn't this sound better? Safer?
Good points, but.... Kenna, I totally understand what you mean about safety. But I also think you are probably one in a million--from what I've seen with a lot of parents, few actually ensure that their kids get the proper exercise they need, which may explain the current "obesity epidemic" among kids. So for a lot of these kids, walking or biking to school could potentially be their only source of exercise--if they actually did it. I actually lived really close to my school, and my mother, who was a stay-at-home mom for a while, walked both me and my sister to and back from school when we were in our elementary years. A big reason I think most kids get rides to school (and note that I'm specifically talking about when school isn't far) isn't because they are lazy or because it's unsafe (the study showed that urban kids walk to school more than their rural peers, after all), but perhaps because parents might be lazy. Where safety isn't an issue, you still generally see parents drive their kids to school rather than encourage them to walk, or walk them themselves. I think a large part of that has to do with the fact that we live in a culture in which people hop in their cars, even if it's just a five-minute walk. We want things done quickly and have almost zero time to spare, and I think that extends invariably to whether or not kids get physically fit. I would also argue that consistent exercise each day (even if it isn't high impact) is probably better than a designated exercise time each week. Not to say that's your case at all, Kenna--I definitely understand safety is a real concern for parents, but I'm specifically addressing the times when it may not be. (Also, it seems to me that taking public transportation sometimes is a lot less safe than walking, but I always see tons of kids on the bus!)
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