Social-ecological correlates of active commuting to school among high school students

Jennifer E Robertson-Wilson, Scott T Leatherdale, Suzy L Wong
Journal of Adolescent Health 2008, 42 (5): 486-95

PURPOSE: It has been suggested that health benefits from physical activity may be accrued through active commuting to school. Considering that active commuting is modifiable via policy and that there is limited research examining active commuting among high school students, this is a domain that warrants further investigation. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationships between demographic, behavioral, social/psychological, and environmental correlates of active commuting to school among a sample of high school students.

METHODS: Students (N = 21,345) from 76 Ontario high schools (grades 9-12) completed the School Health Action, Planning and Evaluation System Physical Activity Module between 2005-2006. Demographic (gender, grade, body mass index), behavioral (smoking status, physical activity, sedentary time), social/psychological (perceived athletic ability, weight status, parental encouragement), and environmental (school location, type, weather) predictors of active commuting (daily or mixed mode) were assessed.

RESULTS: Only 42.5% of high school students reported actively commuting to school. Students were less likely to actively commute to school if they were girls, in grade 12, smoked daily, were low-moderate in physical activity, or attended a rural school.

CONCLUSIONS: Patterns of active commuting to school are influenced by multiple factors, some of which are modifiable through intervention. This has important implications for future school-based programming designed to enhance health and physical activity of adolescents through using active modes of transportation to school.

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