The benefits of walking to school
Walking is great for mental health. It releases feel good hormones, helping to boost our mood and can help children start the day with a calm mind.
Physical activity helps your children learn and boosts their performance in class. After a good walk, they will arrive to school feeling refreshed, happy and ready to start their day.
The NHS say children and adolescents should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Walking to school can help meet this recommendation.
Walking to school can also:
- improve air quality and congestion - by reducing the amount of cars on the road
- teach children safety awareness - including:
- traffic rules
- pedestrian safety
- the importance of paying attention to their surroundings.
- have social benefits - walking with friends or neighbours can help children:
- develop social skills
- make new friends
- foster a sense of community
- give you an opportunity to spend quality time with your children
Living Streets is a UK charity that promotes everyday walking. They have a lot of resources and reports that explain why walking to school is so important.
Ways to promote walking to school
Walk to School Week is a national campaign aimed at getting children and their families walking to school in May each year.
Walk to School Month is an international campaign aimed at getting children and their families walking to school in October each year.
Read our suggestions of Walk to School activities and ideas.
To help promote walking to school you can print one of our free resources:
- 'Let's Walk to School for Clean Air' poster which promotes walking to school
- 'Our Walk to School' event poster which you can personalise with details of your own event
Useful web sites to help promote walking to school:
- Bright Kidz - high visibility garments and accessories
- Gmaps pedometer - plot a route online and measure the distance
- Sustrans have many resources to help you promote walking to school
A walking zone is an area you map around your school. It shows the areas that are 5, 10 and 15 minute walking distances from your school entrance.
You can encourage families who live within these walking zones to walk or cycle to and from school.
If a family lives further away and chooses to drive, you can suggest they park outside the inner zone and walk the last five minutes of their journey. Living Streets call this Park and Stride.
How to create a walking zone map
A walking zone map is most effective if it's customised by pupils, parents, carers and staff using their local knowledge.
Below you can:
- view an example of a base walking zone map before it has been updated
- read guidance on how to customise a walking zone map for your school
- use our 5 minute walking zone toolkit to set up a 5 minute walking zone and encourage people to walk, cycle or Park & Stride to school
- see an alternative example of how to set up a Walking Zone
To find out if there's a Walking Zone Map for your school, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A walking bus is a group of children who walk to their school with the help of adult volunteers. Find out more about how to set up an informal walking bus.
Other useful links
- School Crossing Patrols
- Child pedestrian training
- Pedestrian crossing request
- Road safety for children and teenagers
- Road safety in schools
- Street cleaning
- School route finder