The weather is warming, tulips are blooming, and the time has come to break away from the snow boots many have grown accustom to the past few months. People around town are dusting off their athletic shoes and polishing their bikes for a fun and active summer.  Well you do not have to wait for summer to start being physically active!

April 20 is the Nebraska Spring Walk to School Day.  This program is designed to get children and their families more active by leaving their automobiles in the garage and walking or biking to school instead.  Not only is this a great opportunity to get a little extra physical activity in your day, but it also gives you additional time to connect with your child, their friends and their parents.  It is important to look at this event not as an obligation but an opportunity to see a healthier more fit future for our children.

It may only be a small increase in physical activity for one day but if a habit is formed and walking or riding a bike to school became the norm, the benefits could be substantial.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in their 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans1 recommend that children participate in one hour of physical activity each day for health benefits that include: higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, stronger muscles, lower body fatness, stronger bones, and may also have reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Also, multiple studies in the U.S as well as Korea and Australia suggest physical fitness scores to be significantly and positively related to academic performance at all education levels2,3,4,5.

To see how you can get involved or for more information about the Nebraska Walk to School Day visit their website at http://www.saferoutesne.com/index.html.

Photo of Kyle Kyle is a Exercise Science major, interning with Activate Buffalo County. His favorite ways to live an active and healthy lifestyle include running, cycling, and playing soccer.

1. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Chapter 3. (2008). Health.gov | Your Portal to Health Information from the U.S. Government. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter3.aspx
2. Dwyer T, Sallis JF, Blizzard L, Lazarus R, Dean K. Relation of academic performance to physical activity and fitness in children. Pediatric Exercise Science 2001;13:225-237.  (AUSTRALIA)
3. Kim HYP, Frongillo EA, Han SS, Oh SY, Kim WK, Jang YA, Won HS, Lee HS, Kim SH. Academic performance of Korean children is associated with dietary behaviours and physical status. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003;12:186-192.  (KOREA)
4. Knight D, Rizzuto T. Relations for children in grades 2, 3, and 4 between balance skills and academic performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills 1993;76:1296-1298.  (US)
5. Castelli DM, Hillman CH, Buck SM, Erwin HE. Physical fitness and academic achievement in third- and fifth-grade students. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 2007;29:239-252.  (US)