As we all know, physical activity is important for overall health. A not so well known added benefit from physical activity, documented by recent research [1], is that physical activity also can have a positive impact on academic performance. These findings provide a critical impetus for society to do more to help our kids increase their activity, especially in the school environment.

Beat the Street is a global walking program for schools developed in 2011 by Intelligent Health that is designed to help communities get their children moving more. The program encourages children to walk to school and to track their walks using Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) cards and “Beat Box” readers located on lampposts around the school. By touching their card to the Beat Box, students get points for walking and to assist their school and city in winning the global competition. Beat the Street has discovered that charitable contributions and prizes for the school are powerful incentives for the students and increase participation, so the students help improve their community as well as their health.

The Coca-Cola Company provided funding in 2011 for the program's development and during 2012, TCCC and the Coca-Cola Foundation supported the initial global competition. Four thousand children from 13 schools, including schools in Shanghai, Vancouver, and London and Reading in the UK competed. The program increased the percentage of children walking to school from 63% to 83%. Half of the students said that the program encouraged them to walk more. The program also improved socialization among the students with over 90% of the children saying that walking let them spend more time with their friends and a third claimed to have made new friends by walking to or from school. In 2013/14, schools will be recruited from Shanghai, Bangkok, London, New York, Vancouver, Liverpool, Southampton, Bracknell and Reading.

For more information about Intelligent Health and Beat the Street, please visit their website.

[1] Ardoy DN, Fernández-Rodríguez JM, Jiménez-Pavón D, Castillo R, Ruiz JR, Ortega FB. A Physical Education trial improves adolescents' cognitive performance and academic achievement: the EDUFIT study. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Jul 5. doi: 10.1111/sms.12093. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23826633