Kids That Walk To School Live Healthier Lives As Adults

75% of children who commute to school using self-powered transportation methods like walking live healthier lives through adulthood.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

The Major Benefits Of Later School Start Times

While school bussing issues continue to enter the 2022-2023 school year, walking to school poses many benefits. A new study is displaying the positive effects of active commutes. The findings don’t just display how walking or biking to school keeps children healthy, but that they continue to have better exercise habits into adulthood. 

According to a National Household Travel Survey, just 11% of students walk, ride their bikes, or skateboard to school. Although the public education system specifically places children on campuses based on location, school commutes are mostly made up of bus rides and parents dropping kids off for school. While this may save time it further perpetuates inactive sedentary lifestyles that contribute to the obesity epidemic.

Researchers measured students’ travel behaviors between 2009 and 2017 in mostly low-income areas of New Jersey. A whopping 75% of students who actively commuted to school using self-powered transportation methods like walking were more likely to do so four years later. These students were seven times more likely to do so than students who did not when they were younger. 

Assistant research professor at Arizona State University, Robin DeWeese spoke about the subject, noting how most American students do not get enough exercise each day. Active commuting is one way that parents and schools can encourage students to become physically active and create healthy habits that will continue through the years. Unfortunately, there are certain factors that may keep children from walking to school. 

Immigrant families are less likely to consider walking to school than parents who were born in the country. Neighborhood atmosphere also plays a big role. Parents who believe they live in a safe area were 2.5 times more likely to allow children to actively commute to school. 

Then comes the greatest dilemma. While early childhood education centers and elementary schools are strategically placed closer to neighborhoods, middle schools and high schools are more spread out. This makes walking to class more difficult as students age and have longer distances to travel. 

In order to improve student health and encourage them to develop healthy active commute habits, DeWeese has suggested that cities work to build better designs for schools and campus placement. Creating more walking pathways and sidewalks can easily encourage families to allow children to get some exercise on their way to school. But this all depends on community support, district policies, and lawmaker efforts.

The benefits of walking and other active commutes lead well into adulthood. This is also known to boost mental health. Students’ well-being is improved by these activities and so schools are urged to get more parents on board with these methods of travel. 


Walking is a healthy mode of transportation. For years now, the benefits of active commutes have been known, but how these behaviors aid children as they grow into adults is just now coming to light. These new findings prove that exercise not only improves students’ health when they are young but it sets them on a pathway to living balanced lives once they grow into adults.