GreenUP: The Benefits of a Winter Walk to School in Peterborough

Active School Travel Peterborough (AST Ptbo) has consistently promoted walking and rolling as one of the most beneficial school travel options for the health and safety of students, communities and the environment. These advantages are even more valuable during the winter.

Many recognize the benefits of including active transportation for the trip to and from school, but feel it won’t work with their schedule. While dropping your kids off at school on the way to work may seem like the most convenient option, you may find that including active transportation in your routine can have positive effects on your whole family. Especially during the winter, it was necessary to fetch conveniences quickly. But sometimes slowing down is important.

AST Ptbo has compiled a list of five reasons why it’s worth considering taking a winter walk to school when you can.

Physical activity

Regardless of age, self-care is crucial for all of us and being active regularly is a key part of self-care.

“Physical activity should be part of your self-care routine,” as the folks at ParticipACTION point out. “You don’t have to be a gym rat to reap the benefits, as research consistently points out that even small bursts of daily physical activity (at five to 10 minute intervals) can have immediate positive effects. on your mood No matter your age or physical condition, you can learn to use physical activity as a powerful tool to feel better.

Children and youth need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. For some, this is hard to fit into a normal day. A winter walk to and from school, even for short trips, can add much-needed activity and get kids moving. The World Health Organization says that even a little physical activity is good for our mental health and improves overall feelings.

get outside

Children who spend time in nature tend to be happier and healthier, according to the City of Peterborough’s 2019 Child Development Report. Being outdoors makes it easy for families to apply physical distancing measures while enjoying much-needed social interactions.

Being active outdoors makes you feel connected to nature and turns the commute to and from school into a chance to relax and reconnect with family, friends and the world around you.

Educators around the world are promoting the use of outdoor environments as dynamic extensions of the classroom. These outdoor classes benefit learning, health and well-being, according to Evergreen, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating sustainable urban environments.

Start the brain

Being active can help you feel more energized, boost your confidence, reduce stress, and even improve your sleep, according to Peterborough Public Health. Teachers have even observed that students who walk or cycle to school arrive more alert and ready to learn.

Safer School Zones

Anyone who has experienced a winter school area that is muddy, slippery and full of personal vehicles at arrival or departure time understands that these conditions are not ideal for safety, stress levels and the environment of the entire school community. Removing cars from the school zone leaves a safe space for school bus and pedestrian traffic.

Fewer cars near schools means families can feel more confident about the safety of their children entering and exiting school grounds or navigating the streets on their way to school. Reducing vehicle traffic can also improve air quality around schools and reduce the time school staff should spend directing traffic.

For those who must drive, Park n’ Stride is a great option. Park a few blocks outside the school zone and walk to school. Park n’ Stride reduces congestion in the school zone and allows students to get some physical activity.

Plan ahead and enjoy the little things

Even under normal circumstances, morning routines and going to school can be a source of anxiety or friction. We can all benefit from gentle morning routines that can improve our mood, health, and safety.

Planning ahead for active school trips can help everyone enjoy the little things and reduce stress. If you know there will be fresh snow tomorrow, which may allow you and your family to walk to school, tell your children about it ahead of time. Determine which route to school is best for your family. Involve children in the planning and preparation. This allows them to have some control over certain aspects of their day.

Active School Trip Peterborough continues to work with schools and our community partners on fun and informative Active School Trip programs. Please look for these programs as spring and summer approaches. We want all students and families to have a wonderful and safe school year filled with learning and joy. For more information on Active School Travel Peterborough programs and resources, visit or email [email protected]

Jaime Akiyama is GreenUP’s Active School Travel Peterborough co-coordinator. See for more information.

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Richard V. Johnson