Evidence suggests that healthy behaviors initiated during childhood may continue over time. The objective of this study was to determine whether active commuting to/from school (ACS) at baseline predicted continued ACS at follow-up two to five years later. Two cohorts of households with 3–15 year-olds in four low-income New Jersey cities were randomly sampled and followed for two to five year periods between 2009 and 2017. Children who walked, bicycled, or skateboarded to/from school at least one day/week were classified as active commuters. Children with complete data at both time points were included in this analysis (n = 383). Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the association between ACS at T1 and T2. Models adjusted for child age, sex, and race/ethnicity; parent's education and nativity status (native-born vs foreign-born); household poverty level; car availability; neighborhood level characteristics; and distance from home to school. Children who engaged in ACS at T1 had over seven times the odds of ACS at T2 compared to children who did not actively commute at T1 (p < 0.001), after adjusting for distance to school and other relevant covariates. Distance, regardless of active commuting status at T1 was inversely associated with active commuting at T2. Policies and interventions encouraging ACS, and those that decrease the distance between a child's home and school, may result in increased, habitual active commuting and physical activity behavior throughout childhood and possibly into adulthood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Informatics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Physical activity