Kids Who Walk to School More Active All Day
Walking to School May Build Healthy Physical Activity Habits
Sept. 21, 2005 -- Children who walk to school are more active
throughout the day than their classmates who travel to school by car
A new study shows children who walk to school each day engage in higher
levels of physical activity each day with only a small portion of that
increased activity attributable to the journey itself.
Researchers say the findings suggest that walking to school may encourage
healthy exercise habits and support walk-to-school programs as a way to
increase physical activity among children.
Currently only about 10% of U.S. schoolchildren aged 5 to 15 walk to
Walking to School Promotes Physical Activity
In the study, researchers in Denmark followed 332 schoolchildren who wore
accelerometers that recorded their physical activity minute-by-minute and
compared the physical activity levels of children who walked to school, rode a
bike, and traveled to school by car or bus.
The results showed that both boys and girls who walked to school had higher
daily physical activity levels than those who traveled to school by car or
Overall, children who rode their bikes to school recorded slightly more
activity than those who traveled by car, but the difference was not
significant. However, researchers say accelerometers tend to underestimate
physical activity while riding on a bicycle.
Researchers found boys who rode a bike or walked to school were
significantly more active than those who traveled by car, but the same did not
hold true for girls.
In girls, walking but not cycling to school was associated with higher daily
levels of physical activity.
Walk to School Difficult for Some Children
Researchers say some U.S. school systems are testing walk-to-school programs
as a means to increase physical activity and reduce the risk of obesity among
children. But they say poor road and sidewalk infrastructure can often make the
walk to school treacherous for children.
They say busing policies that are designed to enhance school integration may
also have the unintended consequence of reducing the number of children who can
safely walk to school.
The results appear in the American Journal of Preventive