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Walking and biking to school can have ‘a lasting impact’ on kids’ health, researchers say

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Kids who walk, bike or skateboard to school are more likely to continue this healthy habit as they grow up, results of a recent study show.

As part of the New Jersey Child Health Study, researchers from Rutgers University and Arizona State University looked at data for 587 households. That data included school travel habits and distances to school.

Findings show that more than 75% of the kids who walked, biked or skateboarded to and from school at least once a week at the beginning of the study period continued to do so two to four years later.

A major barrier to walking or biking to school is the distance between home and school. According to the researchers, for every one-tenth of a mile increase in distance to school during follow-up, kids’ odds of being “active commuters” dropped 8%.

 

One solution is remote drop-offs and walking school buses, in which groups of students are chaperoned by parent volunteers.

“The walk to school is a wonderful moment in the day that provides children a glimpse of living an active lifestyle,” said study co-author David Tulloch, a professor of landscape architecture at Rutgers. “When people start walking early, it can have a lasting impact on their health.”

The study was published online in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports.

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