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Active transport, independent mobility and territorial range among children residing in disadvantaged areas
journal contributionposted on 01.12.2014, 00:00 authored by Alison Carver, Jenny VeitchJenny Veitch, Shannon SahlqvistShannon Sahlqvist, David CrawfordDavid Crawford, Clare Hume
Regular physical activity during childhood and adolescence promotes physical and mental health across the lifespan. Walking and cycling for transport may be important, inexpensive and accessible sources of physical activity among socioeconomically disadvantaged youth. This study aimed to examine active transport and independent mobility (i.e. walking/cycling without adult accompaniment) on journeys to school and other local destinations, and their associations with children's physical activity in disadvantaged urban and rural areas of Victoria, Australia. In addition, associations were examined between children's perceived accessibility of local destinations by walking/cycling and their territorial range (i.e. how far they were allowed to roam without adult accompaniment).Survey-reported active transport, independent mobility, territorial range, and objectively-measured physical activity were analysed for 271 children (mean age 12.1 (SD 2.2) years). Habitual travel modes (on 3 or more days/week) were examined. Car travel was most prevalent to (43%) and from (33%) school, while 25% walked to school, 31% walked home, and few cycled (6%). Most walking/cycling trips were made independently. Total weekly duration rather than frequency of active transport to school was positively associated with physical activity. No associations were found between independent mobility and physical activity. Territorial range was restricted - only a third of children were allowed to roam more than 15. min from home alone, while approximately half were allowed to do so with friends. The number of accessible destination types in the neighbourhood was positively associated with territorial range. This research provides evidence of how active transport contributes to children's physical activity and a preliminary understanding of children's independent mobility on journeys to school and local destinations. Further research is required to explore influences on these behaviours.