To systematically examine the relationships between active transport to work or school and cardiovascular health, body weight, or other health outcomes, a systematic review of the literature was conducted in September 2012 using 3 electronic databases. A total of 3887 articles were screened, 30 full text articles were retrieved, and 19 articles were identified. Two reviewers independently assessed the quality of each article. The review found that active transport to work or school was significantly associated with improved cardiovascular health and lower body weight. However, the strength of the evidence varied from weak (mental health and cancer), moderate (body weight), to strong (cardiovascular health). The evidence was limited by lack of comparability of study outcomes, weak study designs, small sample sizes, and lack of experimental studies. Further research is needed to examine the effect of active transport on health using stronger research designs, including randomized controlled trials or longitudinal studies.
Keywords: air pollution and health; education; epidemiology; evaluation; health promotion; occupational and environmental health; population health; public health.