Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Need to Reduce Stress? Walk to School

Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published research on the benefits of children walking to school. Twenty girls and twenty boys, ages 10-14 years old, were randomly assigned to two groups - simulated walking to school or simulated driving to school. The walking group walked 1.6 km while on treadmill viewing neighborhood pictures and finally picture of school. The driving to school group sat in a chair and viewed the same pictures. Following the simulations, cardiovascular stressors were measured during the Stroop task (identify colors written on the wrong color name). The results indicated the following for the children in the walking group:

  • lower systolic blood pressure
  • lower pulse pressure
  • lower perceived stress reactivities to cognitive stress.

The researchers suggest that walking to school may reduce stress throughout stressful moments during the school day. In addition, it is recommended that parents and teachers should foster physical activity throughout the school day since it is not known how long stress reduction will last following active play.

If the children are unable to walk to school, perhaps start a walking group before school starts. Children can come and walk on treadmills or outdoors before the school day begins. No time in the morning, schedule a 15 minute morning break for children to walk at a self selected pace outdoors. Still can not make the time? Try our Mini Movement Breaks for quick sensory motor activity ideas to complete in the classroom.

Mini Movement Breaks: Download of 60+ quick sensory motor activity ideas for school, home and clinic use.

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Reference: LAMBIASE, MAYA J.; BARRY, HEATHER M.; ROEMMICH, JAMES N Effect of a Simulated Active Commute to School on Cardiovascular Stress Reactivity Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 8 - pp 1609-1616
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181d0c77b

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