Bicycling to school is associated with improvements in physical fitness over a 6-year follow-up period in Swedish children

Prev Med. 2012 Aug;55(2):108-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.05.019. Epub 2012 Jun 7.


Objective: To examine whether modes of commuting to school at baseline and changes in commuting were related to 6-year changes in cardiorespiratory fitness in youth.

Methods: A total of 262 (142 girls) Swedish children (9 years at entry) were measured at baseline (1998/9) and follow-up (2004/5). Mode of commuting to school was assessed by questionnaire and fitness by a maximal bicycle test.

Results: At baseline, 34% of children used passive modes of commuting (e.g., car, motorcycle, bus, train), 54% walked, and 12% bicycled to school. Six years later the percentage of bicyclists increased 19% and the percentage of walkers decreased 19%. On average, children who bicycled to school increased their fitness 13% (p=0.03) more than those who used passive modes and 20% (p=0.002) more than those who walked. Children who used passive modes or walked at baseline and bicycled to school at 6 years later increased their fitness 14% (p=0.001) more than those who remained using passive modes or walking at follow-up.

Conclusions: Implementing initiatives that encourage bicycling to school may be a useful strategy to increase cardiorespiratory fitness of children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bicycling / psychology*
  • Bicycling / statistics & numerical data
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Schools*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Transportation / methods
  • Transportation / statistics & numerical data
  • Walking / psychology
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data