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School travel and children’s physical activity: a cross-sectional study examining the influence of distance

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 15:24 by Guy Faulkner, Michelle Stone, Ron N. Buliung, Bonny Wong, Raktim Mitra
Background Walking to school is associated with higher levels of physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between school travel mode and physical activity using a sampling frame that purposefully locates schools in varying neighbourhoods. Methods Cross-sectional survey of 785 children (10.57 ± 0.7 years) in Toronto, Canada. Physical activity was measured by accelerometry and travel mode was self-reported by parents. Linear regression models accounting for school clustering effects examined the associations between mode choice, BMI, and physical activity and were estimated adjusting for age, types of neighbourhoods and travel distance to school. Results Significant associations between walking to school and moderate activity during weekdays were found. Interactions between walking to school and travel distance to school were found only in boys with significant associations between walking to school and higher physical activity levels in those living within 1000–1600 meters from school. Boys walking to school and living in this range accumulated 7.6 more minutes of daily MVPA than boys who were driven. Conclusions Walking to school can make a modest but significant contribution to overall physical activity. This contribution was modified by travel distance and not school neighbourhood socioeconomic status or the built environment.