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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

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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

Background:

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

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusion:

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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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.