Active commuting to school by walking or cycling can have positive impact on children's health and development. The study investigates the prevalence of active commuting to school in Sweden, a setting where it is facilitated and promoted; and how active commuting varies according to socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics.
Self-reports from a national sample of Swedish children (11- to 15-year-olds, n = 4415) and a regional one from Stockholm County (13-year-olds, n = 1008) on transport to school were compared. The association that active commuting has with socio-demographic (gender, school grade, Swedish origin, type of housing, urbanicity in the local area), and socio-economic characteristics (household socio-economic status, family car ownership) was studied using logistic regression, controlling for car ownership and urbanicity, respectively.
Active commuting was high (62.9% in the national sample) but decreased with age-76% at the age of 11 years, 62% at the age of 13 years and 50% at the age of 15 years-whereas public transport increased (19-43%). Living in an apartment or row-house (compared with detached house) and living in a medium-sized city (compared with a metropolitan area) was associated with active commuting. In urban areas, active commuting was more common in worker households compared with intermediate- to high-level salaried employees.
Active commuting is common but decreases with age. Active commuting differed based on housing and urbanicity but not based on gender or Swedish origin, and impact of socio-economic factors differed depending on level of urbanicity.