Active travel to school: views of 10‐13 year old school children in Scotland

Kirby, J. and Inchley, J. (2009) Active travel to school: views of 10‐13 year old school children in Scotland. Health Education, 109(2), pp. 169-183. (doi: 10.1108/09654280910936611)

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the views of Scottish schoolchildren on active travel to school and their ideas about promotion strategies for school‐based interventions. Design/methodology/approach Focus group discussions were conducted with 66 students from four primary and three secondary schools. Findings The most common perceived barriers to active school travel were personal safety, weather conditions and time/distance. To a lesser extent, image, physical discomfort and aspects of the physical environment also prevented children from walking or cycling to school. Perceived benefits centred on health and fitness, environmental and social factors. Enjoyment, confidence and social influences were all discussed, with the latter appearing to have the most significant impact on active travel behaviour. Students suggested a number of potential promotion strategies, including incentives and reward schemes to enhance motivation. Practical exercises such as a group walk or cycle were more popular than classroom‐based activities. Research limitations/implications Findings are limited to Scottish schoolchildren aged 10‐13 in rural and semi‐rural locations. Further research covering younger and older children, as well as more urban locations will broaden understanding of the impact of age and geographical location. Practical applications The findings identify a number of influences on active travel behaviour among young people. Advancing understanding of determinants of context‐specific physical activity is important for the development of effective interventions. Originality/value This paper draws on students' own ideas about the ways in which active travel should be promoted and, as such, has important implications for the development of appropriate and acceptable school‐based active travel programmes.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Inchley, Dr Joanna
Authors: Kirby, J., and Inchley, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Health Education
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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