Active Travel to School and Physical Activity Levels of Irish Primary Schoolchildren

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick
  • 2 University of Ulster
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The purpose of this study was to (1) determine the physical activity levels of 9–11 year old children, and (2) compare the activity levels of children who commute to school by active and passive modes. 140 children aged 9–11 years (85 boys) were recruited from four urban Irish schools. Mode of commuting was assessed by questionnaire. Step counts were measured for 4 consecutive days. Mean daily step counts for the sample were 14386 ± 5634. Boys were significantly more active than girls (15857 ± 5482 vs. 12113 ± 5127 steps). Eighty-seven children (62.1%) traveled by car, 51 children (36.4%) walked to school, one child traveled by bus and one child cycled. Children who walked or cycled to school had higher daily step counts than those who traveled by passive modes (16118 ± 5757 vs. 13363 ± 5332 steps). Active commuting to school may therefore represent a worthwhile strategy for improving children’s physical activity levels.

Murtagh is with the Dept. of Arts Education & Physical Education, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland. Murphy is with the Sport & Exercise Sciences Research Institute, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.

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