Objectively measured active transportation among 10-13 year olds from Kingston, Ontario
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Background: Active transportation positively influences the physical and mental health of children and adolescents. Research on active transportation to school suggests that the walkability of the built environment can influence active transportation. Traditionally, active transportation within children and adolescents has been measured using questionnaires and has focused almost exclusively on the trip to school. Objectives: This thesis studied 10-13 year olds from Kingston, ON and the objectives were to 1) use objective measures to describe children’s total active transportation and active transportation to common travel destinations, and 2) examine the relationship between neighbourhood walkability and children’s active transportation to different destinations. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 388 children and early adolescents (aged 10-13 years) from Kingston, ON, Canada. Participants wore a Garmin GPS watch during waking hours for seven consecutive days. GPS data was analyzed using the Personal Activity Measurement Location System (PALMS) software which identified trips, the time spent in each trip and the trip modality (walking, bicycle, or vehicle). GIS measures of connectivity, proximity to destinations, and pedestrian infrastructure and safety were used to create a walkability index within a 1 km travel distance of each participant’s home. Results: Mean time spent in active transportation was 11.0 minutes/day (95% CI: 10.6, 11.5). Time spent in active transportation was higher for boys (12.4 minutes/day [95% CI: 11.8, 13.1]) than for girls (9.5 minutes/day [95% CI: 9.0, 10.1]) and increased from 8.6 minutes/day (95% CI: 8.0, 9.2) at age 10 to 15.4 minutes/day (95% CI: 14.4, 16.3) at age 13. Time spent in active transportation was lower in the winter by comparison to the other seasons. The most common active transportation destinations were the participant’s home, their school, and other people’s homes. Those living in neighbourhoods in the highest walkability quartile spent an average of 16.2 minutes/day (95% CI: 14.9, 17.5) in active transportation while those in the lowest quartile spent an average of 6.3 minutes/day (95% CI: 5.7, 6.8) in active transportation. Conclusion: Boys engaged in more active transportation than girls, active transportation increased with age and winter was the season with the least active transportation. Home, school and other people’s homes were the destinations with the most active transportation minutes. Those living in the most walkable neighbourhoods accumulated nearly three times more active transportation than those living in the least walkable neighbourhoods.