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Am J Health Promot. 2005 Nov-Dec;20(2):139-47.

How do perceptions of local neighborhood relate to adolescents' walking and cycling?

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  • 1Centre for Physical Activity & Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia.



To examine how perceptions of the local neighborhood relate to adolescents' walking and cycling.


Exploratory cross-sectional study.


Birth cohort from the Nepean Hospital, Sydney, Australia.


Three hundred forty-seven adolescents (79.1% response rate; 49.6% boys; mean age = 13.0 +/- 0.2 years) and their parents.


Self-report and parental-report questionnaires.


Multiple linear regressions, adjusted for level of maternal education, revealed that boys who reported having many peers to hang out with locally, cycled for recreation (beta = 0.242, p = .006) or for transport (beta = 0.141, p = .046) more often, and walked for transport for longer (beta = 0.129, p = .024) on weekdays. For girls this variable was related to cycling for recreation on weekends (beta = 0.164, p = .006) and walking to school (beta = 0.118, p = .002). Adolescents who waved/talked to neighbors walked for transport more often (boys, beta = 0.149, p = .037; girls, beta = 0.119, p = .012). Girls who perceived local roads to be safe spent more time walking for transport on weekdays (beta = 0.183, p = .007) and for exercise on weekends (beta = 0.184, p = .034). Parents' perception of heavy traffic was negatively associated with boys' walking for transport (beta = -0.138, p = .037) and many aspects of girls' walking and cycling.


Social interaction and road safety may be important predictors of adolescents' walking and cycling in their neighborhood. Limitations are the use of self-report and cross-sectional data. Longitudinal studies may clarify these relations.

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