Transit Use by Children and Adolescents: An Overlooked Source of and Opportunity for Physical Activity?

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

The potential for adults to accrue significant physical activity through public transit use is a topic of interest. However, there are no data on analogous questions among children. The goal of this analysis was to quantify patterns of transit use and correlates of transit-related physical activity among children aged 5 to 17 years.

Methods:

Data for this cross-sectional study came from the 2012 California Household Travel Survey. Probit regressions modeled the probability of transit use; negative binomial regressions modeled minutes/day in transit-related active travel.

Results:

Public transit use accounted for 3% of trips in California in 2012. Older Hispanic youth and those residing in areas with greater housing density and county size had a higher probability of transit use. Driver licensure, home ownership, household income, and vehicles in household were negatively correlated with public transit use. Race/ethnicity, income, and transit type were correlated with time spent in active travel to/from transit.

Conclusions:

Given its importance as a source of physical activity for some children, researchers should consider assessment of public transit-related activity in physical activity measurement instruments. Efforts to encourage active travel should consider how to incorporate transit-related activity, both from a measurement perspective and as an intervention strategy.

Durand is with the Dept of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, and the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center Houston School of Public Health, Houston, TX. Pettee Gabriel and Kohl are with the Dept of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences and the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living; Hoelscher is with the Dept of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences and the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas Health Science Center Houston School of Public Health, Austin, TX. Kohl is also with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin TX.

Durand (casey.p.durand@uth.tmc.edu) is corresponding author.