2016 - Research

Active Transport, Physical Activity, and Distance Between Home and School in Children and Adolescents

This study suggests that a distance of approximately 2 km between home and school provides the best potential physical activity outcomes related to active transport for children and adolescents. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • This study suggests that a distance of approximately 2 km between home and school provides the best potential physical activity outcomes related to active transport for children and adolescents. At shorter distances, the increase in the probability of active transport is offset by the decrease in potential physical activity, whereas at longer distances, the increase in potential physical activity is offset by the decrease in the probability of active transport.

RESULTS:

  • For travel to school, the probability of walking and cycling was similar in intermediate and secondary school levels (grades 7 to 8 and 9 to 13 respectively), but notably less in primary school (grades 1 to 6). For travel from school, intermediate school participants had the highest probably of active transport, followed by secondary and then primary school participants.
  • The optimum distance between home and school for maximizing weekday physical activity in primary school participants was 1.7 km.
  • The optimum distance between home and school for maximizing weekday physical activity in intermediate and secondary school participants were 2.3 and 2.1 km respectively.
  • Participants that used active transport to school accumulated significantly more steps on weekdays but not on weekend days when compared with those who used active transport to school, suggesting that weekday active transport may be due to factors beyond desire to be active.

METHODS:

  • Cross-sectional data was used from a 2-year community intervention evaluation (Project InterACTIVE) that included 13 schools (8 primary, 2 intermediate, and 3 secondary) from 2 middle-income neighborhood in Auckland, New Zealand. In total, 595 participants, aged 5 to 16 years, were included in the study. Their physical activity was measured over 7 consecutive days using sealed pedometers, although only 5 days were used. Participants’ home addresses, compliance in using the pedometer, and usual transport mode to and from school were collected via a questionnaire completed by parents (Years 1 to 6) and participants (Years 7 to 11). Chi-squared and regression analysis was applied to the data to determine the predicted change in weekday physical activity associated with a given home-school distance.

Duncan, S., White, K., Mavoa, S., Stewart, T., Hinckson, E., and Grant Schofield (2016). Active Transport, Physical Activity, and Distance Between Home and School in Children and Adolescents (2016). Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 13: 447-453.