2011 - Research

The Walking School Bus and Children’s Physical Activity: A Pilot Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

This study evaluates the impact of a walking school bus program on children’s rates of active commuting to school and physical activity.

  • In this study, a pilot cluster randomized controlled trial is conducted among 4th-graders from 8 schools in Houston, Texas (N = 149). Random allocation to treatment or control conditions was at the school level. Study staff walked with children to and from school up to 5 days/week. Outcomes were measured the week before (time 1) and during weeks 4 and 5 of the intervention (time 2).
  • The main outcome was the weekly rate of active commuting, and a secondary outcome was moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Covariates included sociodemographics, distance from home to school, neighborhood safety, child BMI z-score, parent self-efficacy/outcome expectations, and child self-efficacy for active commuting. A mixed-model repeated measures regression accounted for clustering by school, and stepwise procedures with backward elimination of non-significant covariates were used to identify significant predictors.
  • Intervention children increased active commuting (mean ± SD) from 23.8% ± 9.2% (time 1) to 54% ± 9.2% (time 2), whereas control subjects decreased from 40.2% ± 8.9% (time 1) to 32.6% ± 8.9% (time 2) (P < .0001). Intervention children increased their minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity from 46.6 ± 4.5 (time 1) to 48.8 ± 4.5 (time 2), whereas control children decreased from 46.1 ± 4.3 (time 1) to 41.3 ± 4.3 (time 2) (P = .029).
  • The program improved children’s active commuting to school and daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Mendoza, J. A., K. Watson, et al. (2011). "The Walking School Bus and Children’s Physical Activity: A Pilot Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial." Pediatrics.

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