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October 4, 2011

International Walk to School Day is tomorrow

By Keshia Pollack and Alicia Samuels

On Wednesday, Baltimore schoolchildren will join students from around the world by participating in International Walk to School Day. Now in its 15th year, this global initiative aims not only to help keep students healthy but also to improve air quality (fewer motor vehicles, less pollution) and decrease traffic congestion (nationally, as much as 20 percent to 30 percent of morning traffic is generated by parents driving their children to school).

To many readers, walking to school may not seem like news. If you were born before 1960, almost half of your peers likely walked or biked to school. Currently, however, only 13 percent of children ages 5 to 14 do, meaning the vast majority are missing out on this daily opportunity for physical activity.

The reasons behind this are complicated, but urban planning is one important factor. Many of us now live in communities that were designed for driving at the expense of walking, and the distance from our homes to resources such as shops or schools is prohibitive. (The "neighborhood school" may be quite far from the neighborhood). Indeed, research shows that among children who do not usually walk to school, distance is the most common barrier, followed by traffic danger.

Continue reading "Walking to school: Steps toward health" >>

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About Exercists
Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for baltimoresun.com since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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