School run? Cy­cling to class is more fun

Macclesfield Express - - CHARITY ROUND-UP - SARAH ROE

FEWER than one in 10 (9 per cent) of UK par­ents, and 8 per cent of those in­ter­viewed in the North West say their chil­dren and young peo­ple get the rec­om­mended 60 min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity a day, new fig­ures show.

A YouGov poll, car­ried out on be­half of Sus­trans, UK walk­ing and cy­cling char­ity, sur­veyed 1,370 par­ents of 5 to 16-yearolds through­out the UK (of which 145 were in the North West) about their chil­dren’s daily lev­els of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

About one in five (19pc) of those sur­veyed in the UK said their child took part in 60 min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity a day two days a week, while 13pc said their chil­dren did so one day a week or less.

Sus­trans re­leased the sur­vey as dou­ble Olympic cham­pion Joanna Rowsell Shand came to Greater Manchester to launch The Big Pedal 2017, the UK’s big­gest chal­lenge to get more young peo­ple cy­cling and scoot­ing to school.

The Big Pedal 2017, which runs from Mon­day, March 20, to Fri­day, March 31, will see more than 1,560 schools across the UK leave their cars at home and get on their bikes and scoot­ers for their jour­neys to and from school.

Walk­ing, scoot­ing or cy­cling to school would help chil­dren get their rec­om­mended hour of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity a day and main­tain a healthy weight.

Joanna Rowsell Shand, who is sup­port­ing The Big Pedal for the se­cond year run­ning, said: “Now more than ever we need to see more chil­dren walk­ing, scoot­ing or cy­cling to school.

“Not only is cy­cling great for young peo­ple’s health, it also builds con­fi­dence and in­de­pen­dence and I’ve got lots of happy mem­o­ries of cy­cling to school when I was a kid.

“The safer and more com­fort­able chil­dren feel on their bikes, the more they will en­joy it and the more likely they are to con­tinue to cy­cle through­out their lives.”

Par­ents cited the need for im­proved in­fra­struc­ture, such as wider pave­ments and bet­ter crossings, and en­hanced road safety among their top pri­or­i­ties be­fore al­low­ing their child to walk, scoot or cy­cle to school.

Sus­trans says schools and lo­cal author­i­ties in Eng­land could use the money from a levy on soft drinks to help more chil­dren walk, scoot and cy­cle the school jour­ney.

The char­ity would like to see gov­ern­ments else­where in the UK com­mit ad­di­tional fund­ing from the soft drinks levy to sup­port ac­tive travel.

Ross­lyn Cold­er­ley, Sus­trans Eng­land North di­rec­tor, said: “The av­er­age pri­mary school jour­ney is 1.6 miles - a dis­tance that can be walked, scooted or cy­cled as an easy way of build­ing more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity into our busy lives.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity for schools to use some of the fund­ing from the dou­bled School Sport Pre­mium and the Healthy Pupils’ Cap­i­tal Pro­gramme de­rived from the sugar tax to boost lev­els of ac­tive travel on the school jour­ney.

“Lo­cal author­i­ties need to play their part too and in­vest in safer and bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture if we want to re­duce the high lev­els of in­ac­tiv­ity of our chil­dren.”

Ash­ley Cooper, Pro­fes­sor of Phys­i­cal Ac­tiv­ity and Public Health at the Univer­sity of Bris­tol, said: “Sadly, it isn’t a sur­prise to see low num­bers of chil­dren in the UK meet­ing the phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity guide­lines.

“Th­ese find­ings point out how­ever that some par­ents are recog­nis­ing the im­pact of seden­tary life­style on their chil­dren and we need to build on this aware­ness.

“There is now a wealth of re­search ev­i­dence that tells us that walk­ing or cy­cling to school are im­por­tant for young peo­ple’s phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and health.

“Walk­ing or cy­cling to and from school con­trib­utes up to a third of chil­dren’s mod­er­ate to vig­or­ous phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, help­ing them to meet health guide­lines, and chil­dren who cy­cle to school are fit­ter and health­ier than those who don’t.”

Jo Rowsell Shand with chil­dren at Cale Green Pri­mary School

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