Research Study Abstract

Commuting to School: Are Children Who Walk More Physically Active?

  • Published on 2003

The journey to school is an opportunity for increasing children’s daily physical activity. However, the contribution that active commuting to school makes to overall physical activity is unknown. This study used objective measurement to investigate the physical activity patterns of children by mode of travel To school.

Primary-school children wore an accelerometer programmed to record minute-by-minute physical activity for 7 days and completed a brief questionnaire describing their usual travel to school. The total volume of physical activity and the time spent in activity of at least moderate intensity, as recorded by the accelerometer, was estimated for weekdays and the weekend, and groups of children were compared by mode of transport to school. Data were collected in May/June 2002.

Of the 114 children (59 boys, 55 girls; aged 10.4±0.8 years) who took part in the study, those who walked to school (65%) were significantly more active than those who traveled by car (712.0±206.7 vs 629.9±207.2 accelerometer counts per minute, p=0.05). Analysis by gender indicated that the major differences in physical activity between travel groups were seen only in boys. Hourly activity patterns demonstrated that boys who walked to school were more active after school and throughout the evening than were car users.

In boys, walking to school was associated with higher physical activity after school and during the evening. Active transport may contribute to a more physically active profile, at least for boys, supporting walk-to-school initiatives to increase children’s physical activity.

Link to Abstract:


  • Ashley R. Cooper, PhD
  • Angie S. Page, PhD
  • Lucy J. Foster, MSc
  • Dma Qahwaji, MSc


  • University of Bristol, Department of Exercise and Health Sciences, Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health, Bristol, United Kingdom


American Journal of Preventive Medicine