Active school transportation: counting steps toward a healthy future
One of the most pressing concerns affecting Canadian youth today is their failure to obtain sufficient levels of physical activity. Canadian and World Health Organization guidelines stipulate that to derive health benefits, children and youth must engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, 2016; WHO, 2010). Only 9% of boys and 4% of girls in Canada meet this target (Colley et al., 2011). The routine weekday journey to and from school provides students an opportunity to maximize the span of time they spend exercising. According to recent systematic reviews, utilizing self-propelled modes of travel for the journey between home and school such as walking, cycling, or skateboarding is associated with increased levels of physical activity among youth (Faulkner, Buliung, Flora, & Fusco, 2009; Larouche, Saunders, Faulkner, Colley, & Tremblay, 2014). Over the course of four school days, the present study tracked pedometer-measured steps per day of two active and two non-active secondary school commuters in an effort to quantify their difference in physical activity levels. Daily steps comparisons were made between students who engaged in active school transportation versus students who did not. Findings revealed that on average the active travellers accumulated 585 more daily steps than those using passive school transportation (8471 vs. 7886 steps). This represented a mean difference of 7.15% in steps per day between the active and passive travellers.