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Walking and bicycling to school: a review


Sirard, John R. & Slater, Megan E. (2008). Walking and bicycling to school: a review. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2(5), 372.


Walking and bicycling (active commuting) to school has been proposed as a strategy for increasing youth physical activity and decreasing the prevalence of overweight. Citations for this review were retrieved through PubMed, Transport, ERIC, and ISI database searches using relevant keywords (1975 to March 2007), government and organization Web sites, and bibliographic citations. This review presents (1) prevalence estimates for active commuting to school; (2) the correlates of active commuting to school, presented using a new conceptual framework; (3) the associations between active commuting to school and health (ie, physical activity, weight status, environmental); and (4) a summary of the findings and recommendations for further research. Considerable heterogeneity exists among the reviewed studies for sample size and demographics, the methods used to measure active commuting, and the definition used to identify a positive case (active commuter). In general, active commuting to school is much less prevalent in the United States compared with European countries. A wide range of correlates of active commuting to school have been studied (individual to policy level). Active commuters tend to be more active than nonactive commuters, although no difference in weight status was observed in most studies. More research is needed to corroborate these findings and build on the knowledge base so that effective walk-to-school interventions can be implemented independently or as part of other health promotion efforts, including physician counseling for physical activity.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine


Sirard, John R.
Slater, Megan E.