Running, walking, or just plain playing

On our Facebook page, sharing doesn’t equal endorsement. In fact, some of the liveliest discussions have been about areas of disagreement. I say, when asked, that I post items of interest to people who approach fitness from a feminist perspective. But it’s “big tent” feminism. We don’t agree about everything.

I usually browse through a number of news sites in the morning looking for things of interest to those who follow our page. The blog is Tracy and me but the Facebook page is pretty much (with occasional posts from Catherine, Cate, Nat, and Tracy) just me. Tracy is Twitter and I’m Facebook.

Mostly I love our Facebook page but sometimes I can’t take the criticism over the selection of items I post. It’s as in people thought it were a fulltime job curating our Facebook page rather than something I cram in between showering and breakfast!

It was in the spirit of “interesting idea but I’m not sure what I think of it?” that I shared this story about a Scottish school that gets kids out to run a mile each day.

Many of our page followers objected to framing this in terms of the “war on childhood obesity.” Agreed. I hate that kind of talk too.

Others hated that it was about running. Aren’t there other kinds of exercise? Agreed. Of course.

Finally, some people thought it shouldn’t even be about exercise at all. What happened to childhood play? Can’t kids have both?

I’ve written about this before on other blogs. See Let’s stop talking about childhood exercise over the Impact Ethics blog.

I know at my kids’ school pretty much all games that involved running around were ruled out for fears of contact and violence. No tag, no football or rugby, and in some schools no gymnastic moves. See No cartwheels for you! Just soccer remained. People who research children’s physical inactivity sometimes call this the “protection paradox.” We want to keep children safe so we make them sit down and stay still but that behavior has its own serious long term health risks. We’re not really protecting them at all.

When young my kids often exercised indoors at their desks. My son’s teacher had them dancing at least to fun songs like “New York, New York” as their QDPA (he told me). What’s QDPA, you ask. Quality Daily Physical Activity. Now, I’m not knocking dancing or show tunes. He wasn’t either. But it seemed odd to that we even needed the category of QPDA.

The next year my son’s new teacher introduced daily running for QDPA and he sent home notes saying he was shocked to discover that only a few of the kids could run 2 km. Most of them walked. But I am not sure what we expect if we keep children inside and then force them to run as a deliberate exercise rather than as part of play or a game.

Apologies to Facebook page readers who thought I was endorsing joyless daily running as part of the war on childhood obesity. That’s not my style.

cycling · family

Bike to school day is October 8th

From the London Cycle Group:

Get Out of the Car – Take the School Drop-Off Challenge!

If you normally drop your kids off at school, consider getting them back on their bikes. October is “Walk to School” month, and Wednesday, October 8 is “Walk to School” day. Find out more about Active and Safe Routes to School from the Middlesex London Health Unit.

If you don’t have kids but normally drive to work or school, take the challenge yourself! Try to ride your bike to work most days in October. Tell us on our Facebook page how you’re doing!

Bike and Gear

Kids always seem to grow over the summer!

  • Check to make sure their helmet fits well. This video from Schwinn offers a helpful guide to helmet fitting.
  • Check if the seat needs to be raised. The toes of both feet should be able to touch the ground comfortably.
  • Check the bike over at least once a week together with your child. Pump up the tires, make sure the brakes work, and oil the chain. Here are basic instructions for cleaning your chain.


School-age kids may be old enough to travel to school by bike, but your family’s comfort level will decide whether or not parents go, too. Some things to do with kids who want to ride their bike to school:

  • Review the route together.
  • Review turn signals.
  • Make sure their bell is working.


Dress for the weather and to be seen:

  • When kids’ clothing is bright, others will see them better.
  • Together check the weather each day so the kids learn to plan to wear weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Plan for layers – outer wind and rain-resistant shell, with a warmer layer underneath that can be easily taken off at school.


On School Property

When school is in, rules about bikes on school property are designed to make sure all kids are safe:

  • Students are expected to walk their bikes on school property during school hours.
  • Find out where bikes are stored during the school day.
  • Have a lock and practice locking the bike in the storage area.
  • You may want to advise your child’s teacher that your child will be riding to school.