The Association between Walking to School, Daily Step Counts and Meeting Step Targets in 5- to 17-Year-Old Australian Children

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Objective measurement of daily steps was used to assess whether children (n = 2,076) in Years 1, 5 and 10 who reported walking to or from school were more active and more likely to reach recommended step targets than those who were driven or took public transport to school. Walking to school was associated with higher school-day steps in older children (16,238 vs 15,275 for Year 5 male p < .05, 13,521 vs 12,502 for Year 5 female p < .01, 12,109 vs 11,373 for Year 10 female p < .05). The proportion of children who met recommended step thresholds was higher in those who walked to school compared with those who took motorized transport, and this was significant for Year 5 females (71.7% vs 54.5%, p < .01). This study suggests that walking to school for older children has potential to contribute significantly to daily activity levels and increases the likelihood of attaining recommended step targets. These data should encourage public policy and those concerned with the built environment to provide and support opportunities for walking to school.

Abbott and Macdonald are with the School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia QLD 4072. Nambiar and Davies are with the Children’s Nutrition Research Centre, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Herston, Australia QLD 4059.