National Walk Safely to School Day on Friday 19 May is an opportunity for families to create new healthy and active routines for children and even set a lifelong habit change.
Now in its 18th year, this initiative aims to encourage children to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle by simply including a walk at the beginning, at lunch time and at end of each day. The event also promotes reduced car-dependency, greater use of public transport, cleaner air, improved diets and road safety to all primary school children.
Active Healthy Kids Australia’s latest 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People grades overall physical activity levels. It placed Australian kids equal second-last of 38 countries, beaten by Mozambique, Mexico, Ghana, Columbia, England and New Zealand. Only Scotland performed worse with a “fail” grade.
Only 19 per cent of Australian 5-17 year olds were found to meet the national physical activity guidelines, which call for 60 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per day. In Slovenia, which topped the rankings, 86 per cent of children met the same benchmark.
“Finding ways of making physical activity a part of children’s regular routines is the easiest way of systemically tackling the problem,” Active Healthy Kids Australia spokeswoman Dr Natasha Schranz said.
“The comparisons show that kids move the most in countries where being active is a priority or is an integral part of their everyday lifestyle.
“In Zimbabwe, which received an A- in Active Transportation, more than 80 per cent of children use active rather than motorised transport to get to and from school. And the Netherlands, which led the table on this measure, of course has a deeply ingrained cycling culture.”