Background: Children who use active modes of travel (walking or cycling) to school are more physically active than those who use passive (motorised) modes. However, less is known on whether a change in mode of travel to school is associated with a change in children's physical activity levels. The purpose of this analysis was to investigate the association between change in mode of travel to school and change in overall physical activity levels in children.
Methods: Data from 812 9-10 year old British children (59% girls) who participated in the SPEEDY study were analysed. During the summer terms of 2007 and 2008 participants completed a questionnaire and wore an accelerometer for at least three days. Two-level multiple linear regression models were used to explore the association between change in usual mode of travel to school and change in objectively measured time spent in MVPA.
Results: Compared to children whose reported mode of travel did not change, a change from a passive to an active mode of travel was associated with an increase in daily minutes spent in MVPA (boys: beta 11.59, 95% CI 0.94 to 22.24; girls: beta 11.92, 95% CI 5.00 to 18.84). This increase represented 12% of boys' and 13% of girls' total daily time spent in MVPA at follow-up.
Conclusion: This analysis provides further evidence that promoting active travel to school may have a role in contributing to increasing physical activity levels in children.