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Richard Larouche, Meghann Lloyd, Emily Knight, and Mark S. Tremblay

The current investigation assessed the impact of active school transportation (AST) on average daily step counts, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference in 315 children in Grades 4–6 who participated to Cycle 2 of the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy (CAPL) pilot testing. T-tests revealed a significant association between AST and lower BMI values (18.7 ± 3.3 vs. 19.9 ± 3.8 kg/m2). The active commuters accumulated an average of 662 more steps per day, and their waist circumference was lower by an average of 3.1 cm, but these differences were not statistically significant. ANCOVA analyses controlling for age and step counts, found trends toward lower BMI and waist circumference values among the active commuters. These results suggest that AST may be a valid strategy to prevent childhood obesity; further research is needed to determine more precisely the impact of AST on body composition, and the direction of the relationship.

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Richard Larouche, Louis Laurencelle, Roy J. Shephard, and Francois Trudeau


Several studies have reported an age-related decline of physical activity (PA). We examined the impact of 4 important transitional periods—adolescence, the beginning of postsecondary education, entry into the labor market, and parenthood—on the PA of participants in the Trois-Rivières quasi-experimental study.


In 2008, 44 women and 42 men aged 44.0 ± 1.2 years were given a semistructured interview; the frequency and duration of physical activities were examined during each of these transition periods. Subjects had been assigned to either an experimental program [5 h of weekly physical education (PE) from Grades 1 to 6] or the standard curriculum (40 min of weekly PE) throughout primary school.


The percentage of individuals undertaking ≥ 5 h of PA per week decreased from 70.4% to 17.0% between adolescence and midlife. The largest decline occurred on entering the labor market (from 55.9% to 23.4%). At midlife, there were no significant differences of PA level between experimental and control groups. Men were more active than women at each transition except for parenthood.


Our results highlight a progressive nonlinear decline of PA involvement in both groups. Promotion initiatives should target these periods to prevent the decline of PA.

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Richard Larouche, Travis John Saunders, Guy Edward John Faulkner, Rachel Colley, and Mark Tremblay


The impact of active school transport (AST) on daily physical activity (PA) levels, body composition and cardiovascular fitness remains unclear.


A systematic review was conducted to examine differences in PA, body composition and cardiovascular fitness between active and passive travelers. The Medline, PubMed, Embase, PsycInfo, and ProQuest databases were searched and 10 key informants were consulted. Quality of evidence was assessed with GRADE and with the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool for quantitative studies.


Sixty-eight different studies met the inclusion criteria. The majority of studies found that active school travelers were more active or that AST interventions lead to increases in PA, and the quality of evidence is moderate. There is conflicting, and therefore very low quality evidence, regarding the associations between AST and body composition indicators, and between walking to/from school and cardiovascular fitness; however, all studies with relevant measures found a positive association between cycling to/from school and cardiovascular fitness; this evidence is of moderate quality.


These findings suggest that AST should be promoted to increase PA levels in children and adolescents and that cycling to/from school is associated with increased cardiovascular fitness. Intervention studies are needed to increase the quality of evidence.

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Silvia A. González, Olga L. Sarmiento, Richard Larouche, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, and Mark S. Tremblay

Background: In Colombia, active transportation has been assessed in multiple local and regional studies, but national data on active transportation are scarce. This study aims to describe the prevalence and factors associated with active transportation to/from school among Colombian children and adolescents. Methods: The authors analyzed nationally representative data from the National Survey of Nutrition 2015, with a sample of 11,466 children and adolescents aged between 3 and 17 years. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and prevalence ratios were estimated using Poisson regression multivariable models with robust variance. Results: Approximately 70% of Colombian children and adolescents reported engaging in active transportation to/from school over the last week. There were no differences by sex among preschoolers nor school-aged children. Fewer adolescent females than males used active transportation. Preschoolers and school-aged children living in Bogota were more likely to report active transport than children from other regions (prevalence ratios for other regions ranged from 0.59 to 0.86). School-aged children and adolescents with a lower wealth index were more likely to use active transportation than their counterparts (prevalence ratios = 1.32 and 1.22, respectively). Conclusions: The wealthiest children and adolescents, adolescents from rural areas, and female adolescents should be a focus for future interventions. Actions need to be implemented to improve the involvement in active transportation to/from school in Colombia.

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Richard Larouche, Joel D. Barnes, Sébastien Blanchette, Guy Faulkner, Negin A. Riazi, François Trudeau, and Mark S. Tremblay

Purpose: Children’s independent mobility (IM) may facilitate both active transportation (AT) and physical activity (PA), but previous studies examining these associations were conducted in single regions that provided limited geographical variability. Method: We recruited 1699 children (55.0% girls) in 37 schools stratified by level of urbanization and socioeconomic status in 3 regions of Canada: Ottawa, Trois-Rivières, and Vancouver. Participants wore a SC-StepRx pedometer for 7 days and completed a validated questionnaire from which we derived a 6-point IM index, the number of AT trips over a week, and the volume of AT to/from school (in kilometer per week). We investigated relationships among measures of IM, AT, and PA employing linear mixed models or generalized linear mixed models adjusted for site, urbanization, and socioeconomic status. Results: Each unit increase in IM was associated with 9% more AT trips, 19% higher AT volume, and 147 more steps per day, with consistent results across genders. Both measures of AT were associated with marginally higher PA when pooling boys’ and girls’ data. Children in Vancouver engaged in more AT. PA did not vary across site, urbanization, or socioeconomic status. Conclusion: IM was associated with more AT and PA regardless of where children lived, underscoring a need for IM interventions.

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Ransimala Nayakarathna, Nimesh B. Patel, Cheryl Currie, Guy Faulkner, Negin A. Riazi, Mark S. Tremblay, François Trudeau, and Richard Larouche

Background: Previous research shows that children from ethnic minority groups spend less time outdoors. Using data collected in 3 regions of Canada, we investigated the correlates of outdoor time among schoolchildren who spoke a nonofficial language at home. Methods: A total of 1699 children were recruited from 37 schools stratified by area-level socioeconomic status and type of urbanization. Among these, 478 spoke a nonofficial language at home. Children’s outdoor time and data on potential correlates were collected via questionnaires. Gender-stratified linear multiple regression models examined the correlates of outdoor time while controlling for age and sampling variables. Results: In boys, higher independent mobility, higher outdoor air temperature, mobile phone ownership, having older parents, and parents who biked to work were associated with more outdoor time. Boys living in suburban (vs urban) areas spent less time outdoors. The association between independent mobility and outdoor time became weaker with increasing age for boys. In girls, lower parental education and greater parental concerns about neighborhood safety and social cohesion were associated with less outdoor time. Conclusions: Correlates of outdoor time differ by gender and span the social ecological model underscoring the need for gender-sensitized interventions targeted at individual, family, social, and physical environmental correlates to increase outdoor time.

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Richard Larouche, Emily F. Mire, Kevin Belanger, Tiago V. Barreira, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Mikael Fogelholm, Gang Hu, Estelle V. Lambert, Carol Maher, José Maia, Tim Olds, Vincent Onywera, Olga L. Sarmiento, Martyn Standage, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Mark S. Tremblay, and For the ISCOLE Research Group

Purpose: This study investigated the relationship between outdoor time and physical activity (PA), sedentary time (SED), and body mass index z scores among children from 12 lower-middle-income, upper-middle-income, and high-income countries. Methods: In total, 6478 children (54.4% girls) aged 9–11 years participated. Outdoor time was self-reported, PA and SED were assessed with ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers, and height and weight were measured. Data on parental education, neighborhood collective efficacy, and accessibility to neighborhood recreation facilities were collected from parent questionnaires. Country latitude and climate statistics were collected through national weather data sources. Gender-stratified multilevel models with parental education, climate, and neighborhood variables as covariates were used to examine the relationship between outdoor time, accelerometry measures, and body mass index z scores. Results: Each additional hour per day spent outdoors was associated with higher moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA (boys: +2.8 min/d; girls: +1.4 min/d), higher light-intensity PA (boys: +2.0 min/d; girls: +2.3 min/d), and lower SED (boys: −6.3 min/d; girls: −5.1 min/d). Effect sizes were generally weaker in lower-middle-income countries. Outdoor time was not associated with body mass index z scores. Conclusions: Outdoor time was associated with higher PA and lower SED independent of climate, parental education, and neighborhood variables, but effect sizes were small. However, more research is needed in low- and middle-income countries.