Parents urged to make National Walk Safely to School Day an everyday habit

National Walk Safely to School Day on Friday 19 May is the perfect opportunity for families to create new healthy active routines as research shows Australian children lagging their international peers in physical activity levels.

Dr. Natasha Schranz, Co-Chair of Active Healthy Kids Australia, said the organisation’s 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People found overall physical activity levels placed Australian kids equal second-last of 38 countries, beaten by Mozambique, Mexico, Ghana, Columbia, England and New Zealand.

“Only 19 per cent of Australians aged between five and 17-years were found to meet the national physical activity guidelines, which call for 60 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per day,” she said.

“We have to make some fundamental changes as a nation today, and take the learnings of these countries or bear the negative impact on the nation’s future health and those associated costs.”

The report found Australian children’s participation in active transport options such as walking or cycling to school had declined from C to C- in the 12 months since the 2015 scorecard.

“Finding ways of making physical activity a part of children’s regular routines is the easiest way of systemically tackling the problem,” Dr Schranz said.

“The comparisons clearly show that kids move the most in countries where being active is a priority or is an integral part of their everyday lifestyle.”

Dr. Schranz urged all Tasmanian families, when they sit down to dinner the night before 19 May, to have a conversation about Walk Safely to School Day, with a view to making it a part of kids’ regular routine.

Caption: Nine-year-old Grace Turner, and her mother Natalie, of Geilston Bay, make walking a regular part of their routine.