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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Aug 10;16(16). pii: E2862. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16162862.

Correlates of Children's Independent Mobility in Canada: A Multi-Site Study.

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School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Département des sciences de l'activité physique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, QC G8Z 4M3, Canada.
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4, Canada.
Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, ON K1H 8L1, Canada.
School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Centre, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada.


Globally, physical inactivity is a concern, and children's independent mobility (CIM) may be an important target behavior for addressing the physical inactivity crisis. The aim of this study was to examine correlates of CIM (8-12 years old) in the Canadian context to inform future interventions. CIM was measured via parent surveys. Individual, social, and environmental correlates of CIM were examined using a social-ecological framework. 1699 participants' data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and gender-stratified linear mixed-effects models while controlling for site, area-level socioeconomic status, and type of urbanization. Individual correlates including child grade (β = 0.612, p < 0.001), language spoken at home (β = -0.503, p < 0.001), car ownership (β = -0.374, p < 0.05), and phone ownership (β = 0.593, p < 0.001) were associated with CIM. For boys, parental gender (β = -0.387, p < 0.01) was negatively associated with CIM. Parents' perceptions of safety and environment were significantly associated with CIM. Location (i.e., site) was significantly associated with CIM (ref: Trois-Rivières; Ottawa (β = -1.188, p < 0.001); Vancouver (β = -1.216, p < 0.001)). Suburban environments were negatively associated with boys' independent mobility (β = -0.536, p < 0.05), while walkability (400 m β = 0.064, p < 0.05; 1600 m β = -0.059, p < 0.05) was significantly associated with girls' independent mobility only. Future research and interventions should consider targeting "modifiable factors" like children's and parents' perceptions of neighborhood safety and environment.


active transportation; built environment; physical activity; social–ecological framework; socioeconomic status; urbanization

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