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Prev Med. 2012 Feb;54(2):134-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.12.004. Epub 2011 Dec 11.

The contribution of active travel (walking and cycling) in children to overall physical activity levels: a national cross sectional study.

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  • 1Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, UCL, 1-19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.



To assess the contribution of active travel to and from school to children's overall physical activity levels in England.


Logistic regression models examining associations between active travel (walked, or cycled, to/from school at least once in the last week) and achievement of physical activity recommendations (≥60 min/d daily) in 4,468 children aged 5-15y (303 with valid accelerometry data) participating in the nationally-representative Health Survey for England 2008.


The 64% of children who walked and the 3% who cycled to/from school were more active than the 33% who did neither. Typical walkers came from a deprived area and were less likely to have a limiting illness; typical cyclists were older, male, and most likely to meet the recommendations. For self-reported activity, time spent cycling to/from school contributed more to meeting the recommendations (OR1.31, 1.09-1.59) than time spent walking to/from school (OR1.08, 1.02-1.15) or in sports (OR1.17, 95% CI 1.14-1.20). Time spent walking to school (OR1.80, 1.41-2.30) and in sports (OR1.10, 1.01-1.20) were significantly associated with being in the highest tertile actigraph-measured activity.


Children who reported walking or cycling to school were more active. Longitudinal studies are required to ascertain whether encouraging active travel affects less active children.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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