Schools Walking: A Practical Way to Exercise With Our Children

Over and over I read about how we MUST get our children away from the television and doing regular exercise. This at a time when many kids no longer have scheduled physical education classes during the school day and to many live in neighborhoods where playing outside is iffy.
So here’s an idea.
How about every morning, in every school (k-12) nationwide, all the students, the entire faculty, all the secretaries, the custodians, everyone, walk for a mile out and a mile back or two miles around the track if there is one. I repeat, everyone. Lock the doors, put on their walking shoes and no matter the weather all-together walk those two miles. No body gets to weenie out. Keep extra walking shoes, and winter coats on hand for folks who try to finagle out when they’ve worn inappropriate clothes. It does not take long to walk a brisk two miles so it won’t delay the start of the school day by very much.
Why everyone? Because kids recognize overweight school administrators and teachers when they see them. And why should kids have to exercise when the adults sit on their all too often overweight butts? It’s both unfair to ask of the kids and deeply hypocritical to boot.
Before the project begins do a base line health evaluation on everybody –- blood pressure, cholesterol, that sort of data — and what do you bet that after a full school year of 10 miles a week there would be a hell of a lot of difference for everyone concerned. We know that exercise is best, especially for women, in the morning. It’s great appetite control for the adults. The student’s would begin their day energized and ready to learn.
Is there a school out there that will take up my challenge?


  • Becky

    I love it! Currently my kid gets 15-20 minutes of recess a day. That’s just not enough time to let loose after having to sit still all day!!! When she was in kindergarten, they didn’t get recess until the end of the day. What’s up with that?

  • jim

    One of the most fascinating (and addictive) sites on the Internet is Lenore’s “Free Range Kids” which is an offshhot of the wonderful book by the same name. (Actually, the book grew out of the blog.) Anyway she’s the NYC journalist whose 9 year old son wanted to ride the subway alone, so she let him make the same ride he’d taken countless times (Bloomingdale’s to home, no transfers) one afternoon without a hyper-protective grownup along to spoil the fun. She wrote a column about it and the next day she was on every talk show in America as “the worst mom in the world.” So Lenore started looking at actual threats to children as compared to media-driven perceived threats and came to the conclusion that as a nation of parents we have basically lost our finfrockin’ minds. As Lenore points out, even if you did for some reason WANT a stranger to abduct your child and keep him overnight you would have to leave the kid out in the yard unattended for 750,000 years for it to become a statistical probablity. This is why stranger abductions are such huge news when they happen – because it is very, very rare. Your child is much more likely to get hit by a car getting out of your minivan in front of the school than to be abducted walking to school – but when she was researching the book Lenore heard from a mom who lets her 9 year old son walk his 6 year old sister one block in their incredibly safe suburban neighborhood to their elementary school, and now the other parents won’t let her kids come over to play because they have irresponsible parents. FRK is a wonderful antidote to the whole “but something might happen” paranoid mindset – occasionally there will be a note from a young adult who is in massive therapy from a childhood dominated by hyper-protective parents who thought “Law & Order – SVU” is a reality show and they were therefore forbidden to go play in the park or ride bicycles around the neighborhood. Lenore got a bit of media attention recently for declaring a late spring Saturday to be “National Take Your Kids To The Park – And Leave Them! – Day.” Thousands of parents all over the country did exactly that and guess what – all of the kids had fun and not a single one got abducted, raped or murdered. Recess is a topic that gets a lot of attention at FRK – especially now that we have removed the merry-go-rounds and teter-totters from the playground because they are so dangerous and have “study plans” for recess (I swear to God, I’m not making this up) because childhood time is so precious that we can’t waste a moment of it on unstructered playing.

  • Leni the cook

    Thank you Jim for the recommendation. I did hear the interview with Lenore on NPR and was delighted but didn’t know she has a website. I shall visit it and send her a link to my Schools Walking post.

  • Ben

    Schools without scheduled PE? Here in the Netherlands, schools like that would be closed. Sounds like it’s time for schools in your country to suffer some legislation that prohibits scratching it from the curriculum. They’re acting like it’s not important, while obesity studies suggest otherwise.

  • Leni the cook

    I’m glad you like my ‘Schools Walking’ post and are interested in linking to my site. I’d love to see your site to get to know you before linking.
    I look forward to hearing back from you,

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