If you've got children, now that the weather is turning decidedly warmer there are no excuses for not taking part in next month's Walk To School Week, which takes place between 17-21 May.
We can't think of a better way to celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions than going for daily walks, something we'll never again take for granted.
Walk To School Week is a week-long activity for primary-school-aged children, a great way to help everyone achieve the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day, but there can be much greater benefits for both you and your children.
Geraldine Collins, the Care Group's School Health & Wellbeing Service Lead, shares some very important reasons why you should join the Walk To School campaign this spring.
With COVID still about, walking in the fresh air is beneficial for good physical health
There has been a lot of uncertainty around coronavirus and the orders to help keep us safe. But one thing that's been clear is the importance of keeping healthy. Many of us have started to increase our daily steps during the lockdown. We should be aiming to hit around 10,000 steps a day and while this may seem overwhelming at first, the key to success is building up slowly.
Children and young people should aim to do at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day to include both aerobic exercise and exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones. One way to help young people do this is to join in the Walk to School Week, it is simple and free. As well as strengthening muscles and bones, it will strengthen your heart, increase your lung capacity which in turn improves your stamina, helps to reduce obesity, and helps to prevent conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.
Walking in the sunshine will increase levels of Vitamin D; this is good for bone health, as well as the immune system and after a walk, you will feel more energised.
Walking supports better concentration – good mental health
Walking is also great for your mental health because as well as helping you feel energised, it makes you feel happy too. When you take a brisk walk, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins, these chemicals can reduce stress hormones and alleviate a low mood and anxieties, improving your mood and self-esteem.
Walking can also help with concentration in the classroom as it helps to supply the brain with oxygen and glucose which helps the brain and memory to function more efficiently. It clears your head and helps you be creative. It's a great way to relax and clear your mind, giving you the ability to think more imaginatively and efficiently.
In a time of heightened anxiety, a good night's sleep is important and so in turn, the reduction of stress through walking can help you get a better night's sleep.
Walking regularly is one of the easiest ways to improve our mental health and emotional state.
It's great bonding time – gives an opportunity to talk without the distraction of devices
Walking with someone else is a great bonding activity. The daily walk with your child could help you develop better communication and bonding experiences without distractions.
Having a chat, talking about everything and nothing with your child can be a special time for both of you. In this day and age when devices and technology can be a barrier, the walk to and back from school can be a refreshing change.
Regular exercise also improves mood and feelings of wellbeing which can improve your relations with others. You can while away the minutes chatting about your plans for the day or catching up about the day so far, leaving those phones aside to enjoy the face-to-face time.
Learn more about Walk To School Week here.