Physical Activity at School - Encouraging Physical Activity

Walk and Cycle to School

Did you know that just 33% of children and youth in Peel walk to school yet 67% live within two kilometers? Walking is the simplest form of physical activity. Promote and support students’ participation in walking to school and home from school.

Benefits for Children

The more active children and youth are earlier on, the better chance they have of developing life long physical activity behaviours into adulthood. Physical fitness levels are linked to positive health outcomes, such as:

  • Healthy body weight
  • Improved mood
  • Self-esteem
  • Academic performance
  • Overall quality of life

Walking also allows students to learn more about their neighbourhoods, socialize with friends, gain independence and most importantly, have fun!

Benefits for Your School

  • Reduce traffic congestion in your parking lot and around your school
  • Build cohesion amongst your school community
  • Add more physical activity into your students’ day
  • Support environmentally-friendly initiatives

Benefits for Parents

  • Foster healthy habits for their children and themselves
  • Get to know other families during their walk to school
  • Save money on gas and practice environmentally-friendly behaviour

For information on how your school can participate in walking to school programs or initiatives contact your school health nurse 905-799-7700.


For additional information and resources visit Green Communities Canada: Active and Safe Routes to School.

For information on pedestrian safety visit Parachute Canada.

  • A two-part motivational video about the benefits of active travel to school:

    Student Edition
    Elementary students share their experiences about walking to and from school and why they would encourage their peers to do the same.

    Video Part 1: Stepping It Up: Kids Say Walking to School is Healthy, Fun and good for the Environment.

    School Travel Planning Edition
    Parents, Teachers and School Administrators describe how to incorporate walking and biking strategies into the school community and why they would encourage other school communities to do the same.

    Video Part 2: Stepping it Up: How to Get Active on the Trip to School through School Travel Planning

  • A Teacher’s Guide – a tool designed for teachers, to extend students’ learning from the Student Edition video with five activities linked to the most recent Ontario curriculum guidelines

Other Walk to School Ideas

Walking As a Class

Join up with another teacher and take both classes out together. When you’re walking as a group, remember to:

  • Warm up and cool down before and after walking to avoid soreness
  • Apply sunscreen no matter the season
  • Drink lots of water

Keep Kids Motivated

  • Create a class or grade competition to see which group walks the most
    • Track the distance or time walked as part of math class
    • Walk across Canada as part of a geography class
  • Praise all of your students for their achievements
  • Starting a friendly walking competition with another school in your area to see which school walks the most
  • Have a poster contest. Ask your students to design posters that promote walking to school or simply walking in general
  • Setting small incentives for events that promote physical activity and healthy eating such as pedometers, hackey sacks or class trips to the park

Safety Reminders for Students

Whether walking to school on their own or as part of a program at school, remind kids to:

  • Look both ways before crossing the street
  • Be aware of what's going on around them
  • Walk with friends, never alone

For more information

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Revised: Thursday September 26 2013

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