Associations between Adolescents' School Travel-Physical Activity, School Travel Mode, and Neighbourhood Walkability




Frazer, Amanda Donatienne Claudia

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Introduction: Physical activity (PA) in Canadian adolescents is low, and active travel to school is an important source of PA. Neighbourhood walkability is linked to youth PA, and may also be related to school travel behaviour. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to explore the association between adolescents’ school travel-PA, school travel mode, and walkability in urban and suburban neighbourhoods. Methods: Adolescents (n=234; grade 8-10) were sampled from schools in a high walkability urban (n=52) and a low walkability suburban neighbourhood (n=182). PA was measured by accelerometry (ActiGraph; ≥4d 600 min·d-1), and converted from activity counts to minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Travel-PA was derived from minutes of MVPA accrued during the hour before and after school. Travel mode was self-reported (i.e., walk, bike, transit, school bus, car). Analyses were stratified by sex and travel mode (Stata v.10). Results: Valid travel data were provided by 224 participants (49.6% girls). Prevalence of travel modes differed significantly between urban and suburban boys (χ2=25.4, p<0.001) and girls (χ2=21.0, p<0.001). Valid PA and travel data were available for an analytical sample (n=91, 58.2% girls). Differences in collapsed modes (active vs. passive) were not significant between cohorts for boys (χ2=1.5, p=0.22) or girls (χ2=0.3, p=0.61). Minutes of travel-PA were significantly higher in urban than suburban boys for both active (29.4±9.2 vs. 11.0±9.2, p<0.001) and passive travel (22.6±2.7 vs. 8.8±7.4, p<0.001). There were no significant differences in girls. Conclusion: These results suggest that neighbourhood walkability may be associated with school travel-PA in boys, regardless of travel mode. More research is needed to understand this association in girls. The research also showed travel modes were different between neighbourhood cohorts, but when modes were collapsed into larger categories (passive and active) they were not. Future research should analyse school travel-PA by detailed travel modes whenever possible.



physical activity, active transportation, school transportation, active travel, youth, adolescents, walkability, built environment, mode