Rivett mum Amanda Corbett walks with her two children to and from Chapman Primary School every day; the walk there a chance to focus on what's ahead, the walk home an opportunity to debrief about what's gone on.
"It's a nice way to start the day,'' she said.
"It's 'push, push, push' to get out the door and then it's a chance for everyone to think, 'right we're going to school, let's focus'.
"And walking home, it's a chance for a good debrief. If something is on their mind you get to talk about it.''
Amanda, who runs her own business, knows she has the luxuries other parents would love to have in those rushed mornings before school - time and flexibility - which allow her to make the 10-minute walk with Lachie, eight, and Hannah, five.
"I love that we are close enough to the school that we can do that but I more than appreciate that life and work commitments don't always accommodate that and it is easier to get in the car,'' Amanda said.
Nevertheless, health authorities are urging parents to take part in National Walk to School Safely Day on Friday as a kickstart to a healthier life - for them and their kids.
Leading researcher Dr Natasha Schranz, of the University of South Australia, called on parents to get active to set an example to their children.
“The future health of our children really depends on it. Studies show that children with active parents tend to be active themselves and so it is important that parents share the role of getting the family out and about, then children respond accordingly,” she said.“There’s also the added bonus for parents of increasing their own health and fitness while being active with their children.”
Heart Foundation ACT CEO Tony Stubbs said 25 per cent of children in Canberra were overweight or obese and only one in five was meeting the recommendation of 60 minutes of "huff and puff'' exercise per day.
Mr Stubbs said Walk to School Safely Day was a chance for parents to review some of the logistical challenges of walking their children to and from school, even one day a week.
"Can they leave a bit earlier? What's the best route? Can they park in a carpark closer to the school and walk them up?'' Mr Stubbs said.
National figures showed 70 per cent of children were now regularly driven to and from school, compared to 16 per cent in 1970, he said.
Mr Stubbs said parents also had to weigh up the delicate balance between protecting their children and helping them develop some resilience. He said parents should try to allow their children to walk to school alone once they reached an agreed age and developed a safe route together.
"I think we've tipped a bit more over to the protection side of things,'' he said.
Studies also show that 75 per cent of children who have at least one active parent will take part in sport and physical activity outside school hours.
Dr Schranz said children playing a weekly game of sport was not enough.
“People tend to forget that a child may only be participating in sport one to three times a week with training and games, and some of this time may be spent not moving. And then there are some children who don’t engage in sport at all,” Dr Schranz said.
Dr Schranz is the co-chair of Active Healthy Kids Australia which produces a biennial report card on children’s physical activity levels and has twice assigned a D- rating.
The next report is due later this year. She said children needed daily activity to reduce the risk of health conditions such as obesity and Type II diabetes.
“The evidence tells us that children who get good amounts of daily exercise also achieve greater academic success and maintain higher attention levels during class,” she added.
“But also they’re happier and more engaged socially, they enjoy being active.''
Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull threw his support behind National Walk Safely to School Day, saying physical fitness was also "vital to overall happiness and wellbeing''.
"Walking regularly does not have to be difficult. It can be as easy as getting off the bus a
few stops earlier, parking the car further away, or walking with friends and family all or
part of the way to school,'' Mr Turnbull said.
Amanda Corbett said the only time the family didn't walk to school was in the pouring rain.
"When it's cold, we've got hats, gloves, beanies, we're good to go. Or we ride,'' she said.