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Walking to Public Transit

Steps to Help Meet Physical Activity Recommendations
  • Lilah M. Besser
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Lilah M. Besser, MSPH, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, 1600 Clifton Road, MS E-86, Atlanta GA 30333.
    Affiliations
    Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Andrew L. Dannenberg
    Affiliations
    Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
    Search for articles by this author

      Background

      Nearly half of Americans do not meet the Surgeon General’s recommendation of ≥30 minutes of physical activity daily. Some transit users may achieve 30 minutes of physical activity daily solely by walking to and from transit. This study estimates the total daily time spent walking to and from transit and the predictors of achieving 30 minutes of physical activity daily by doing so.

      Methods

      Transit-associated walking times for 3312 transit users were examined among the 105,942 adult respondents to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, a telephone-based survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation to assess American travel behavior.

      Results

      Americans who use transit spend a median of 19 minutes daily walking to and from transit; 29% achieve ≥30 minutes of physical activity a day solely by walking to and from transit. In multivariate analysis, rail users, minorities, people in households earning <$15,000 a year, and people in high-density urban areas were more likely to spend ≥30 minutes walking to and from transit daily.

      Conclusions

      Walking to and from public transportation can help physically inactive populations, especially low-income and minority groups, attain the recommended level of daily physical activity. Increased access to public transit may help promote and maintain active lifestyles. Results from this study may contribute to health impact assessment studies (HIA) that evaluate the impact of proposed public transit systems on physical activity levels, and thereby may influence choices made by transportation planners.
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