Prevalence and Correlates of Walking and Biking to School Among Adolescents

  • Timothy J. Bungum
  • Monica Lounsbery
  • Sheniz Moonie
  • Julie Gast
Original Paper

Abstract

Increasing the rates that our adolescents walk and bicycle to school, also called active transport to school (ATS), could increase the physical activity (PA) levels of that age group. This type of activity has been identified as a missed opportunity for PA. It is currently estimated that 15% of American youth walk or bicycle to school. These rates of ATS are lower than those of European and Asian youth. Efforts to enhance levels of non-motorized transport to school could aid in reducing obesity rates among American youth, decrease traffic congestion and attenuate emission of greenhouse gasses. The objective was to identify demographic, environmental and psychosocial predictors of ATS. A 30-questionnaire was completed by 2,692 students. Logistic regression was used to identify psychosocial, demographic and environmental predictors of ATS. Only 4.6% of students used ATS. Predictors of ATS were street connectedness (density of street intersections) and gender, (boys had higher ATS rates). Public health officials should be alert for opportunities to select sites for new schools that are in neighborhoods with well connected street systems. Interventions promoting ATS will need to target male and female students and there appears to be an opportunity to increase rates that students bicycle to school.

Keywords

Adolescent Physical activity levels Active transport to school 

References

  1. 1.
    N.C.C.D.P A.H. Promotion. (Ed.). (1996). Physical activity and health: A report of the surgeon general. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pate, R., et al. (1995). Physical activity and public health: A recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 273, 402–407.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Thompson, P., et al. (2003). Exercise and physical activity in the prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: a statement from the council on clinical cardiology (subcommittee on exercise, rehabilitation, and prevention) and the council on nutrition, physical activity and metabolism (subcommittee on physical activity). Circulation, 107, 3109–3116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Physical Activity for Everyone: Recommendations: Are there special recommendations for young people?Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Pate, R., et al. (2006). Promoting physical activity in children and youth: A leadership role for schools, a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on nutrition, physical activity, and metabolism (physical activity committee) in collaboration with the councils on cardiovascular disease in the young and cardiovascular nursing. Circulation, 114, 1214–1124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tudor-Locke, C., Ainsworth, B., & Popkin, B. (2001). Active commuting to school: An overlooked source of children’s physical activity. Sports Medicine, 31, 309–313.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Barriers to children walking to and from school, United States. (2004). In Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, pp. 949–952.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cooper, A., et al. (2003). Commuting to school, are children who walk more physically active? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25(4), 273–276.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Boarnet, M., et al. (2005). Evaluation of the California Safe Routes to School Legislation: Urban form changes and children’s active transport to school. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 134–140.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Giles-Corti, B., & Donovan, R. (2003). Relative influences of individual, social environmental and physical environmental correlates of walking. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1583–1589.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Frank, L., & Engelese, P. (2003). Health and community design. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kerr, J., et al. (2006). Active commuting to school: associations with environment and parental concerns. Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise, 38, 787–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Roberts, I. (1996). Safely to school? Lancet, 347, 1642.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    N.H.T.S. Administration. (Ed.). (2005). Traffic safety trends: 2005 data. National Center for Statistics and Analysis.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gebel, K., Bauman, A., & Petticrew, M. (2007). The physical environment and physical activity: A critical appraisal of review article. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32(5), 361–369.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Staunton, C., Hubsmith, D., & Kallins, W. (2003). Promoting safe walking and biking to school: The Marin county success story. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1431–1434.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gordon-Larsen, P., Nelson, M., & Beam, K. (2005). Associations among active transportation, physical activity and weight status among young adults. Obesity, 13, 868–875.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Fulton, J., et al. (2005). Active transportation to school: findings from a national survey. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 76, 352–357.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Moudon, I., & Lee, C. (2003). Walking and bicycling: An evaluation of environmental audit instruments. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18, 21–37.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Timperio, A., et al. (2000). Personal, family and environmental correlates of active commuting to school. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 45–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Cervero, R., & Duncan, M. (2003). Walking, bicycling, and urban landscapes: Evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1478–1483.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mapquest (2007). Available at http://mapquest.com. Accessed 10 September 2008.
  23. 23.
    Saelens, B., Sallis, J., & Frank, A. (2003). Environmental correlates of walking and cycling: Findings from the transportation, urban design and planning literature. Annuls of Internal Medicine, 25(2), 80–91.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Granner, M., et al. (2007). Perceived individual, social and environmental factors for physical activity and walking. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 4, 278–293.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Schultz, R., et al. (1985). Inventories and norms for children’s attitudes toward physical activity. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 56(3), 256–265.6.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Healthy People 2010. Available at http://www.healthypeople.gov/search/stat_107obj.htm.
  27. 27.
    Mota, J., et al. (2007). Active versus passive transport to school: differences in screen time, socio-economic position and perceived environmental characteristics. Annuls of Human Biology, 34(3), 273–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    O’Sullivan, S., & Morrall, J. (1996). Walking distances to and from light rail stations. Transportation Research Record, 1538, 19–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Falb, M., et al. (2007). Estimating the proportion of children who can walk to school. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(4), 269–275.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Brownson, R., Boehmer, T., & Leise, D. (2005). Declining rates of PA in the US; what are the contributors? Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 421–443.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lopez, R., & Hynes, H. (2006). Obesity, physical activity and the urban environment: Public health research needs. Global Health, 5, 25–34.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Marcus, B., et al. (2006). Physical activity intervention studies: What we know and what we need to know: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism (subcommittee on Physical Activity); Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Lung; and the Interdisciplinary Working Group of Quality of Care and Outcomes Research. Circulation, 114, 2739–2752.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Frank, L., et al. (2005). Linking objectively measured physical activity with objectively measured urban form: Findings from SMARTRAQ. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 117–125.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Heath, G., et al. (2006). The effectiveness of urban designs and land use and transportation policies and practices to increase physical activity: A systematic review. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 3, s55–s76.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Sirad, J., et al. (2005). Prevalence of active commuting at urban and suburban elementary schools in Columbia, South Carolina. American Journal of PublicHealth, 95, 236–237.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ogilvie, D., Egan, M., & Hamilton, V. (2004). Promoting walking as an alternative to using cars: Systematic review. British Medical Journal, 329, 763–767.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hill, J., et al. (2003). Obesity and the environment: Where do we go from here? Science, 299, 853–855.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy J. Bungum
    • 1
  • Monica Lounsbery
    • 2
  • Sheniz Moonie
    • 1
  • Julie Gast
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of Nevada-Las VegasLas VegasUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sports Education LeadershipUniversity of Nevada-Las VegasLas VegasUSA
  3. 3.USU HPER DeptUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations