The contribution of active travel to meeting physical activity recommendations among college students

Oliver W.A. Wilson, Lucas D. Elliott, Michele Duffey, Zack Papalia, Melissa Bopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Active travel (AT), that is walking or biking for transport, is one way in which individuals can accumulate physical activity to benefit their physical and mental health. The purpose of this study was to examine the contribution of AT to physical activity among college students. Methods: Data were collected from students enrolled in general health and wellness courses at a large university in the northeast of the United States using an online survey distributed via email. Participants self-reported their demographics (age, sex, race/ethnicity, and residence location) as well as their physical activity using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire. Weekly metabolic equivalent minutes (weekly MET-minutes) were calculated for moderate physical activity (MPA), vigorous physical activity (VPA) and AT. Participants were categorized as moderately and highly physically active based on whether they met the criteria of ≥600 and ≥1500 weekly MET-minutes from MPA and VPA respectively both before and after adjusting for weekly AT MET-minutes. Results: Analyses were conducted on 3714 students, who had a mean age of 21.0±1.5 years, and the majority of whom were women (57.8%), non-Hispanic white (77.2%), and resided off campus (79.5%). Adjusting for weekly AT MET-minutes resulted in a significant decrease in the number of students classified as moderately and highly physically active. Odds ratios revealed that sex, but not race, significantly predicted the likelihood of students no longer being both moderately and highly physically active after adjusting for AT. Women were more than 40% more likely to no longer meet both criteria compared to men after controlling for age, race, and residence location. Conclusions: Findings suggest that AT contributes considerably to college students’ physical activity, particularly among women. Findings reinforce the importance of facilitating and promoting AT among college students and considering socio-demographic characteristics when making such efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100890
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Transportation
  • Pollution
  • Safety Research
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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