Proximity to School and Physical Activity Among Middle School Girls

The Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls Study

Published in: Journal of Physical Activity and Health, v. 3, suppl. 1, Feb. 2006, p. S129-S138

by Deborah A. Cohen, J. Scott Ashwood, Molly M. Scott, Adrian Overton, Kelly R. Evenson, Carolyn C. Voorhees, Ariane L. Bedimo-Rung, Thomas L. McKenzie

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BACKGROUND: Proximity to routine destinations is an important correlate of physical activity. The authors examined the association between distance from school and physical activity in adolescent girls. METHODS: The authors mapped the addresses of 1554 sixth-grade girls who participated in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (TAAG) Study and calculated the shortest distance from home to school along the street network. Using a hierarchical design they examined the association between MET-weighted moderate to vigorous physical activity (MW- MVPA) and distance to school, while controlling for potential confounders. RESULTS: Distance to school was inversely associated with weekday MW- MVPA for middle school girls. For every mile the girls lived from their schools, they engaged in an average of 13 fewer MET-weighted minutes per week. CONCLUSIONS: Distance to school is inversely associated with MW-MVPA. The most adversely affected girls lived more than 5 miles from school. Time spent commuting could explain reduced time for physical activity.

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