Active Commuting to School in Otago Secondary School Students: Physical Activity, Health and Attitudes.
Lubransky, Alexandra Claire
Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine: 1) the prevalence of active commuting to school (ACS) in Otago senior secondary school students, 2) factors associated with ACS, and 3) predictors or influences on a student’s decision to actively commute to school.Methods: 543 senior secondary (high) school students from 11 schools in the Otago region of New Zealand were recruited from classes of year 11 through 13 (aged 15-18 years). Students completed a comprehensive questionnaire including questions relating to travel to school, physical activity, and nutrition. Anthropometrical measurements (height and body weight) were taken and fitness testing was conducted on a subset of students to determine VO2max (n=235). Results: 37% of students used active modes of travel to get to school (walking or cycling), with a similar number of boys and girls doing so (36% and 38% respectively). Students who actively commuted to school were more physically active than their non-active commuting peers (bus or car) (OR: 1.09; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.18), boys were likely to have a lower fitness level if they used active travel to get to school (OR: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.99). BMI and breakfast consumption were not related to ACS in these students. Perceptions relating to the journey to school proved to be strongly related to ACS; if a student thought they would achieve exercise from the journey (OR: 7.12; 95% CI: 4.36, 10.93), could chat with friends (OR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.05, 2.36), and their friends encouraged them (OR: 3.29; 95% CI: 2.51, 9.69), they were more likely to actively commute to school. If they perceived the journey was too time consuming (OR: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.26) or they thought that their parents worried about their safety (OR: 0.46; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.79), they were less likely to actively commute to school.Conclusions: When a student was physically active for 30 minutes on most days of the week, they were more likely actively commute to school versus students who were not regularly physically active. If a boy had a higher fitness level, they were less likely to actively commute to school compared to those with a lower fitness level. Perceptions associated with the journey to school were strongly associated with active commuting, thus indicating that if education surrounding the benefits of ACS can be presented to students and their parents, higher levels of ACS may ensue, and hence frequency of trips made to school via active means may increase. Key Words: Active Commuting to School, Physical Activity, Fitness, BMI, Breakfast, Student Perceptions.
Advisor: Black, Katherine; Skidmore, Paula
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Physical; Activity; Fitness; BMI; Breakfast; Attitudes; Commuting; School; Transport
Research Type: Thesis