Physical Activity and Active Commuting to Elementary School

Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.
Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise (Impact Factor: 3.98). 12/2005; 37(12):2062-9. DOI: 10.1249/01.mss.0000179102.17183.6b
Source: PubMed


This study was conducted to determine if fifth-grade students who walked or bicycled to school on a regular basis were more physically active than those that did not.
The sample consists of 219 fifth-grade students (10.3 +/- 0.6 yr, 44% male, 58% minority) from eight randomly selected urban and suburban elementary schools. Students wore an Acti-Graph physical activity monitor during the same week that they completed a daily survey to report their mode of transportation to and from school. Students were categorized on the number of reported active commuting trips, to and from school, per week (regular;>or=5 (N=11), irregular; 1-4 (N=25), nonactive; 0 (N=183)).
Compared with both other groups, regular active commuters accumulated 3% more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; P=0.04) during weekdays. This weekday difference was because of regular active commuters accumulating 8.5% more minutes of MVPA both before and after school (P <or= 0.01). No difference in physical activity was seen among groups during school or in the evening. Based on the mean number of minutes the students wore their monitors on weekdays (800 min.d), the 3% difference translates into approximately 24 additional minutes of MVPA per day for the regular active commuters.
Walking to school was associated with approximately 24 additional minutes of MVPA per day in fifth-grade students. Additional observational and experimental research in larger, more diverse samples is needed to further clarify the effects of active commuting to school on total daily physical activity and other health outcomes.

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    • "To improve children's PA levels many strategies can be implemented , including active commuting (Sirard et al., 2005), after-school PA programs (Trost et al., 2008), and school-based interventions (Taylor et al., 2011). Schools are an ideal setting to promote PA because most children attend school and thus can be targeted (Naylor and McKay, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Playground interventions offer an opportunity to enhance school recess physical activity. We aimed to assess the effects of playground marking on objectively measured school recess physical activity in French children. Participants were four hundred and twenty children (6-11years old) from 4 primary schools in Nord-Pas de Calais, France. Children's physical activity (PA) was measured with a uniaxial accelerometer twice a day (morning and afternoon recess) during a 4-day school week in April and May 2009. Two experimental schools (EG) received a recess-based intervention (playground markings) and two others served as control (CG). Percentage of time spent in sedentary (SED), light (LPA), moderate (MPA), vigorous (VPA), very high (VHPA) and moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) intensity PA during school recess was measured before and after intervention. At baseline, school recess PA among children from CG was significantly (p<0.001) higher than EG children. No interaction was observed between the recess-based intervention and gender. After the intervention, the EG spent significantly (p<0.05) more time in MPA, VPA and MVPA with a concomitant significant decrease in SED (p<0.05) compared to baseline, while the PA in CG remained unchanged. Painted playground markings had a positive short-term effect on school recess physical activity levels.
    Preventive Medicine 08/2013; 57(5). DOI:10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.07.019 · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "Active travel to school (ATS) constitutes a substantial portion of children’s overall physical activity [1] and ATS is associated with higher overall physical activity [2-10]. ATS can decrease traffic and pollution, reduce children’s dependence on parents, improve social interactions, and promote healthy life styles which may be maintained into adulthood [11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Despite the multiple advantages of active travel to school, only a small percentage of US children and adolescents walk or bicycle to school. Intervention studies are in a relatively early stage and evidence of their effectiveness over long periods is limited. The purpose of this study was to illustrate the utility of agent-based models in exploring how various policies may influence children’s active travel to school. Methods An agent-based model was developed to simulate children’s school travel behavior within a hypothetical city. The model was used to explore the plausible implications of policies targeting two established barriers to active school travel: long distance to school and traffic safety. The percent of children who walk to school was compared for various scenarios. Results To maximize the percent of children who walk to school the school locations should be evenly distributed over space and children should be assigned to the closest school. In the case of interventions to improve traffic safety, targeting a smaller area around the school with greater intensity may be more effective than targeting a larger area with less intensity. Conclusions Despite the challenges they present, agent based models are a useful complement to other analytical strategies in studying the plausible impact of various policies on active travel to school.
    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 05/2013; 10(1):67. DOI:10.1186/1479-5868-10-67 · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    • "Correspondingly, non-active commuters demonstrate a 12- 20 percent lesser chance of meeting physical activity guidelines and a 17-22 percent greater prevalence of sedentarism (Tudor-Locke et al. 2002). Additional studies demonstrate a significant correlation between cycling and overall physical activity in male youth (Cooper et al. 2003; Cooper et al. 2005; Panter, Jones and van Sluijs 2008; Sirard et al. 2005). Moreover, Saksvig and colleagues (2007) found that adolescent females who walked to and from school averaged an extra 13.7 minutes of overall physical activity for each school day. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined relationships between parents' neighborhood safety perceptions (NSPs) and their children's physical activity, active commuting to school, park use, active transportation to parks, and screen time, including differences by child gender, age, and income. Parents completed validated measures about NSPs and one child's behaviors. Children (n=144) were dichotomized into high or low groups for each of five behaviors and ANCOVAs analyzed between-group differences in parents' NSPs. There were no significant NSP differences for physical activity or active commuting, but higher parental NSPs were associated with greater park use among the full sample, males, ages 3–5, ages 13–17, and low-income children. Higher parental NSPs were also related to females' greater active transport to parks and less screen time. Addressing structural and psychosocial elements of neighborhood safety can lead to increased physical and social activity among young people.
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