Active transportation (AT) has been associated with positive health outcomes, yet limited research has addressed this with college students, a population at-risk for inactivity. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between AT behavior and objectively measured fitness outcomes.
A volunteer, convenience sample (n = 299) of college students from a large northeastern university completed a survey about their AT habits to and on campus and psychosocial constructs related to AT and participated in a laboratory-based fitness assessment (cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, body composition).Off-campus students were dichotomized as nonactive (0−1 AT trips/day) or active travelers (> 1 AT trips/day) to campus; t-tests compared nonactive and active travelers for psychosocial and fitness variables.
Students were 56.3% male, 79.2% non-Hispanic White, and primarily living off-campus (87%). Most students (n = 177, 59.2%) reported active travel between classes. Off-campus students were primarily active travelers (76.1%). Active travelers to campus had greater cardiovascular fitness (P = .005), were more flexible (P = .006) and had lower systolic blood pressure (P = .05) compared with nonactive travelers.
This study documents a relationship between AT behavior and objectively measured fitness among college students and provides a rationale for targeting this behavior as a method for improving health outcomes.