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Health Promot Int. 2002 Mar;17(1):21-30.

School journeys and leisure activities in rural and urban adolescents in Norway.

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The Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden.


Health promotion measures in order to increase physical activity should include environmental and policy approaches. Studies in natural living environments such as rural and urban areas may provide valuable information about the effects of environmental factors on physical activity. The present study was performed among 88 adolescents living in one rural and one urban area in Norway, with particular focus on the availability of cycling tracks and walking trails. The study showed that both rural and urban adolescents spent more time on sedentary activities, such as watching TV/video and playing TV/data-games, than on regular physical activity. No differences were observed between the two groups in regard to activity patterns. However, the median distance the urban adolescents walked or cycled to school was three times greater than the median distance the rural adolescents walked or cycled to a bus stop or to school. The urban adolescents also walked or cycled more to regular activities than the rural ones. Positive correlations were found between walking or cycling from home to school and walking or cycling to regular activities. In multiple regression analysis, urban area, female gender and distance walked or cycled to school or bus stop predicted increased walking or cycling to activities. The results confirm other studies on adolescents, showing that much more time is spent on sedentary rather than on physical activity. Knowledge is still lacking concerning predictors of sedentary and general physical activity, but the results indicate that access to cycling tracks and walking trails in residential areas may increase both walking or cycling to school and to leisure activities. A relevant strategy for health promotion may therefore be to make cycling tracks and walking trails accessible; some passive transport both to school and to leisure activities may thus probably be replaced by walking or cycling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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