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Minnesotans Urged to Bundle Up, Walk or Bike Today

Walking or biking to school each day can help children fight obesity, but fewer than 13 percent of Minnesota kids do. (walkmn.org)
Walking or biking to school each day can help children fight obesity, but fewer than 13 percent of Minnesota kids do. (walkmn.org)
February 1, 2017

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Minnesota winters can be brutal, and it's sometimes hard to get people motivated to get outside, but it's important to make sure folks keep moving, even when it's cold out. That's the idea behind "Winter Walk and Bike to School Day."

In 1969, about half the state's children walked or biked to school, but today fewer than 13 percent do. At the same time, the American Heart Association says childhood obesity has skyrocketed to 27 percent in Minnesota and recommends kids get 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Barbara Beck is a board member with "We Bike Rochester," a chapter of the Bicycle Alliance Minnesota. She's retired and is an avid cyclist who hopes kids don't let the cold scare them from enjoying time outdoors.

"It's just so easy for kids to get this by walking and biking to school rather than being transported by car or bus," she said.

The American Heart Association says less than half of Minnesota students report having had 60 minutes of physical activity in five or more days of the last week.

The Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition is pushing the state Legislature to provide more funding to make cities across the state more bicycle friendly. Beck says many parents don't want their children to walk or bike to school, even though they live nearby because it just isn't safe.

"My own neighborhood, we're under a mile from the nearest elementary school where the kids go, and it's not safely walkable because we don't have sidewalks," she added.

Lawmakers are being asked to allocate $6 million to the Minnesota Safe Routes to School Program to make sure kids can get to and from safely each day. The money would go for improved street crossings and sidewalks or trails near the schools.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN