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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010 Dec 8;7:87. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-7-87.

Criterion distances and correlates of active transportation to school in Belgian older adolescents.

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  • 1Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO), Brussels, Belgium.



Since physical activity levels in older adolescents have the potential to be increased by stimulating active transportation to school (ATS), the most important correlates of ATS should be determined before developing interventions, especially in those adolescents for whom the distance to school is feasible for active commuting. The main aims of this study were to determine criterion distances for ATS in Belgian older adolescents, to examine multidimensional correlates of ATS in adolescents living within a feasible distance from school and to investigate the associations of ATS with total physical activity and with other physical activities besides ATS.


In total, 1281 older adolescents (17-18 years) from 20 general secondary schools in East- and West-Flanders completed a questionnaire on physical activity behaviors, demographic factors and psychosocial and physical environmental correlates of physical activity. Distance to school was objectively measured using Routenet online route planner.


In total, 58.4% of the participants commuted actively to school. The criterion distance for ATS could be set at eight kilometers for cycling and two kilometers for walking. For those adolescents living within a feasible distance for ATS, gender, smoking status, walkability of the neighborhood and social modeling were associated with transportation mode choice. ATS was positively associated with total physical activity, but not significantly related to min/week of other physical activities.


For older adolescents living within eight kilometers of their school, interventions taking into account the correlates found to be related to ATS could possibly be effective to enhance ATS and to increase total physical activity levels. In the context of the overall physical activity decline in adolescence, also interventions targeting physical activity behaviors of adolescents living further away from school might be needed, but these interventions should probably emphasize alternative strategies.

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