Cycling to school and cardiovascular risk factors: a longitudinal study

J Phys Act Health. 2011 Nov;8(8):1025-33. doi: 10.1123/jpah.8.8.1025.


Background: Cycling to school may potentially increase physical activity level in sedentary children. Transport to school occur twice a day and could improve cardiovascular health in children. Commuter cycling is associated with lower mortality and cardiovascular disease rate in adults, but limited evidence exists in children.

Methods: Participants were 334 children (age 9.7 ± 0.5 years) who were followed up 6 years later. Mode of travel to school was investigated by questionnaire. Cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors were compared by mode of travel to school both at baseline and at follow up and for subjects who changed mode of transportation. No difference was found between walkers and passive travelers, and these groups were merged in the analysis.

Results: A consistent pattern of better CVD risk factor profile in commuter cyclists compared with children using other means of transport was found. Participants, who did not cycle to school at baseline, and who had changed to cycling at follow up, were fitter, had better cholesterol/HDL ratio, better glucose metabolism, and a lower composite CVD risk factor score than those who did not cycle at either time point.

Conclusion: Cycling to school may contribute to a better cardiovascular risk factor profile in young people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Denmark
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Transportation / methods
  • Transportation / statistics & numerical data