January 30 2018 Advancing active transport

“Mum, can I tell you something?”

“Sure”

“Did you want to know how to spawn an Ender Dragon in Minecraft?”

I didn’t need this particular piece of information, but when walking my seven-year-old to and from school, Minecraft tends to come up a lot. For more than a kilometre, a couple of times each week, Charlie and I chat about several topics and I gain an insight into the busy brain of my little one.

I’m lucky my work gives me the flexibility to do the school run/walk two days a week; not every parent has this luxury. It’s one of the reasons why Parents’ Voice is joining 16 health promotion organisations, including the National Heart Foundation and VicHealth, to support Active School Travel: pathways to a healthy future.

Active School Travel was prepared by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration with the aim of reversing the alarming decline in physical activity amongst Australia’s children and young people. It proposes a three-part policy framework to stimulate change:

  1. Build active environments to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists
  2. Establish a knowledge hub for active school travel initiatives
  3. Adopt a national target for physical activity

These changes are needed. I was astounded to learn that only 1 in 3 Australian children are getting in their 60 minutes of physical activity a day. On our active travel days, Charlie just needs to run around the playground or have a jump on the trampoline for 20 minutes to meet his quota.

Studies have shown that physical activity from a young age leads to health benefits throughout the life span, whereas physical inactivity has been linked to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity. According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable diseases worldwide, contributing to over three million preventable deaths annually. With such an obvious correlation between poor health outcomes and physical inactivity, the importance of active travel cannot be underestimated.

I know that I’ll remember these stats on the walk home, and appreciate the added, healthy benefits on my future walking Minecraft lessons.

More information about the newly-released Active School Travel can be found here.

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