For years we’ve been hearing how bad it is for kids to carry heavy backpacks to school.
We’ve worried that they could be doing permanent damage to their backs. Some parents have even taken to driving their kids to school to prevent them walking with that heavy weight across their shoulders.
But now, an expert is suggesting maybe we’ve got it wrong. In fact, she’s saying kids should be encouraged to walk to school carrying their backpacks, even if they are heavy.
Assistant Professor Sara Dockrell has carried out an extensive study into the impact of children carrying schoolbags in Ireland. She says the research linking schoolbags to back pain is inconsistent. But there's pretty clear evidence that not doing enough exercise leads to obesity.
“Walking to and from school while carrying a schoolbag could count as moderate activity and therefore it should be encouraged, and not discouraged,” Dr Dockrell says.
“Not carrying a schoolbag could be seen to be a barrier to physical activity and may deny children the benefits of daily resistance exercise as they travel to and from school.”
For years, the rule of thumb has been that children shouldn't carry more than 10 per cent of their body weight on their backs. But according to Dr Dockrell, there's plenty of research suggesting it's okay to carry more than that.