17 April 2018

BJSM editorial on children's active travel

BJSM editorial on children's active travel

This editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviews the causes and solutions behind declining independent active travel amongst children in the UK.

Children’s independent mobility has declined sharply across the UK since the 1970s, when it was first measured. We see this not least in terms of increasing car use for the school journey. This reflects the fact that across these four decades politicians and highway engineers have planned for increased car use. So that is what has resulted.

Across the same period, greater scientific evidence for the health impacts of this decline in physical activity has been accumulated. The importance of routine physical activity, such as active travel, for heart health, weight management, and mental wellbeing are just three of the myriad aspects of health gain which are now routinely denied to children. In the process, they have also been exposed to higher levels of pollution inside vehicles, something largely unknown among parents/carers. Children are then habitualised into car use as the social norm which is likely to influence their adult travel behaviours (and how they raise the next generation).

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