Being active every day is important in childhood and can lay the foundations for a healthy and active life. While the benefits of an active lifestyle are compelling, getting children to move more and sit less is complex. These research articles from 2009 - 2017 look at the effect of active travel on children including participation, health, safety and environmental factors. There is information on the increase in car use in Australian cities a result of policies which promote the use of cars and inhibit cycling and walking. The articles also look at different studies and programs in Australia and overseas and offer ideas about the future direction of active travel in Australia.
Active transport and independent travel important for children 2017
A new study published today in Health and Place has provided novel information on patterns of children’s active transport and independent travel that could be used to help children and adolescents be more physically active in the future.
The study by the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University, in partnership with VicHealth, looked at changes over two years in 184 children with an average age of 12 years. Significantly, those who took part in the survey came from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas in both urban and rural areas of Victoria.
Dr Jenny Veitch from IPAN said the research is of particular importance because children in this demographic tend to have low levels of physical activity and are at risk of poor health outcomes.
“We found that 43.5 per cent, or almost half of the children surveyed used a form of active transport, such as walking, riding a bike, skateboard or scooter to get to or from school at least three or more times a week and this didn’t change over the two year period.
“However, we did see a drop in the number of children who used a form of independent active travel to get to or from school, such as walking, riding a bike, skateboard or scooter without a parent or adult, at least three or more times a week over the two years of the study. Download report
Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young 2016
The Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young people is based upon the best available evidence from both national and state-based surveys. Each year a panel of physical activity experts evaluate all available evidence before assigning grades to each of the Report Card indicators. 2016 marked the release of the second Full AHKA Report Card on Physical Activity of Children and Young People, which assesses 12 physical activity indicators (physical activity behaviours, traits, and the settings and sources of influence, and strategies and investments, which have the potential to impact these behaviours and traits). The results of the 2016 Report Card will contribute to the second ‘Global Matrix’ of grades, this time benchmarking Australia against 37 countries. Download report
Active for Life – Vic health 2014
Active for Life is an evidence-based resource to help better understand the challenges around children's physical activity, and inspire better practice to integrate more movement in children's daily lives. The majority of children (around 80%) don’t get the hour of exercise crucial for good health every day. And only one in four walk or cycle to school.
Being active every day is important in childhood and can lay the foundations for a healthy and active life. While the benefits of an active lifestyle are compelling, getting children to move more and sit less is complex. Being active as a family has never been more important. Download report
Census At School, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013
A nation-wide annual survey of year 4 to 12 students. Results only reflect the views of students who voluntarily agreed to complete the surveys.
- Total kids in WA using active transport to school = 29.1% (not including public transport) Download report
Ditch the cotton wool and let kids travel independently, Lisa Gibbs & Bjorn Nansen 2013
This article covers the reduction of children’s independent mobility over the last 30 years and contains links to studies and provides evidence to suggest ‘cotton-wool kids’ increase is partly responsible for rise in childhood obesity to 1 in 4 children. Download report
A Comparison study of children's independent mobility in England and Australia
This research by Alison Carver et al. 2013 found that Australian parents' fear of their child/ren being abducted by a stranger and traffic issues played the greatest role in their decision to allow their child/ren to independently walk to school. These concerns exist despite statistics showing:
- most children are abducted by someone they know and random attacks are very rare; and
- traffic issues are exacerbated by more parents driving their children to school. Download report.
Active Travel to School, Cycling Promotion Fund 2012
Detailed data of factors affecting cycling to school in Australia.
- 9 in 10 parents believe that cycling is a good way to get fit
- 70% of parents surveyed believe it is important for kids to be able to ride independently, but nearly 50% do not think that it is safe to let their children ride to school
- 60 % of parents surveyed drive their kids to school
- 45% believe it is important for their kids to receive formal bike education. Download report.
2009 - 2011 Articles
Active transport: Children and young people, Dr Jan Garrad 2009
An overview of evidence of the effect of active travel on children including participation, health, safety and environmental factors. It also looks at different studies and programs in Australia and overseas and offers ideas about the future direction of active travel in Australia.
- 32% of children aged 9-16 years met the guideline for moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day, while 58% achieved this level on most days (2007 Australian Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (survey taken over 4 days))
- Active transport has the potential to make a substantial contribution to children’s daily physical activity (may be more equitable and inclusive than organised sport and exercise programs)
- Commuting to and from school comprises about half of young people’s total active travel time
- In Australia, children are nearly twice as likely to be killed as a car passenger than as a pedestrian, and more than 4 times as likely to be killed as a car passenger than as a cyclist
- Countries with higher levels of active transport generally have low pedestrian and cyclist fatality rates Download report