With obesity prevalent in children, walking to school is an excellent opportunity to promote physical activity. However, only about 10 percent of children nationwide walk to school. Even among those kids living within a mile of their school, only 25 percent walk to school regularly.
So why should we walk? It can help create a healthier culture for children and adults! Children need about 60 minutes of physical activity throughout the day, and walking is one way to do it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers suggestions for ensuring your child meets his or her daily physical activity requirements. While this may sound like a lot, it's likely your child already meets these guidelines! Just be sure they are participating in age-appropriate activities that include aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening exercises.
The majority of your child's 60 minutes of activity should be spent on aerobic exercise. This can be moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running. Be sure to include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at least three days per week.
Muscle-strengthening activities can include push-ups, pull-ups, gymnastics and even unstructured play on the jungle gym. This should be included three days per week as part of the 60 minutes. Bone-strengthening activities like jumping rope and running should also be part of your child's 60 minutes each day.
Kids throughout Mississippi are benefiting from more opportunities to be active at school through efforts like those of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. Since 2005, the Foundation has funded physical education equipment and health curriculum in 188 schools around the state as part of the Project Fit America program. Learn more about the Foundation's efforts to build a healthier generation of students.
With Mississippi being home to many rural areas and communities, walking to school may not be possible for many children. That's why it's important to look for a variety of opportunities to help your child be active. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi developed the "Get Ready to Run" school program, which is giving students in some Jackson-metro area schools practical and fun physical activity challenges in preparation for the 2014 Get Ready to Run Kids' One-Mile Fun Run on January 11, 2014. You can also go for a walk with your child in the afternoon following school, or enjoy a post-dinner walk together as a family. Be creative in identifying opportunities to be active!
Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi is a valuable resource for schools, teachers and students who are making physical activity a part of their day. The Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi school program is available to each school in the state and includes a tracking program and others resources to get started. For more information about the school walking program, visit the Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi website. You can also find places to walk in Mississippi, learn the benefits of walking and even track your progress online!
Contact your child's teacher or principal and encourage the school to participate in a Walk to School Day event. You can find a list of events in Mississippi by visiting the National Walk to School in the USA website at www.walktoschool-usa.org and click on the Who's Walking link.