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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. m.roth@ucl.ac.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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