City kids are more likely to walk or bike to school, getting more physical activity than rural schoolchildren as a result, a new study has found.
Researchers from the University of Montreal followed 7,600 Canadian schoolchildren aged 6 to 16, and found that those who lived in urban settings were 3.7 times more likely than their rural counterparts to walk or bike to school instead of commuting by car, bus or public transportation, Time reports.
Children from low-income families or living with a single parent or older sibling were especially more likely to walk or bike to school, "perhaps in part because they lacked access to a car or because they were less likely to attend private schools located outside their neighborhoods," reports Time.
The most active commuting for schoolchildren occurred between ages 6 and 10.
The findings show how important it is for developing safe walking and biking routes to school for children, especially as the nation struggles with a child obesity epidemic. This "may help them get more exercise and could provide an affordable and easy way to improve their overall health," said Time.
Interventions that may help, according to the study, include:
- Improve neighborhood walkability features (like crosswalks and sidewalks)
- Develop programs that encourage children to travel to school together
- Fund more schools in more neighborhoods
The increased activity is even more crucial in the areas where they're highest -- inner cities and other low-income areas typically have poor food environments, filled with convenience stores that stock fatty, sugary snacks, says Time.
Did you walk or bike to school when you were a schoolkid? When did you start driving or using public transportation?