Active forms of transport, such as walking and cycling, have been recognized as potential avenues to increase daily physical activity providing an alternative to more traditional physical activity domains such as sport and exercise. Active school transport has been proposed as a way to increase physical activity in children and youth at the population level, with the added benefit of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Despite these benefits, longitudinal studies performed in the last decades have shown a decline in the rates of active transport mainly due to barriers such as the distance from home to school or family decisions. In 2011, a systematic review of 14 intervention studies to promote this behavior concluded that more research should be conducted to further evaluate interventions and to determine the most successful strategies for increasing active transport to school.
Consequently, researchers from the University of Granada in collaboration with the Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina (USA), carried out an update of this previous review published in 2011 by Chillon et al, publishing the update review in Preventive Medicine, an international scholarly journal that publishes original articles on the science and practice of disease prevention, health promotion, and public health policymaking.
The researchers concluded that most of the intervention studies (21/23) on walking and bicycling to/from school indicated poor quality of the study components as well as low effect size. In addition, the current systematic review study can aid researchers and practitioners who wish to create future strategies to promote this behavior and understand the effects of intervention programs on children using active transportation to school.
This article is signed by UGR, researchers Emilio Villa-González, Yaira Barranco Ruiz and Palma Chillón (senior author), in addition to Kelly Evenson from the University of North Carolina.