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Active travel intervention and physical activity behaviour: An evaluation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Barbara EberthORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


A physically active lifestyle is an important contributor to individual health and well-being. The evidence linking higher physical activity levels with better levels of morbidity and mortality is well understood. Despite this, physical inactivity remains a major global risk factor for mortality and, consequently, encouraging individuals to pursue physically active lifestyles has been an integral part of public health policy in many countries. Physical activity promotion and interventions are now firmly on national health policy agendas, including policies promoting active travel such as walking and cycling. This study evaluates one such active travel initiative, the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme in Scotland, intended to encourage uptake of walking, cycling and the use of public transport as more active forms of travel. This paper analyses the physical activity data collected for the evaluation of the programme, focussing on what can be inferred from the initiative with regards to adult uptake of physical activity participation and whether, for those who participated in physical activity, the initiative impacted on meeting recommended physical activity guidelines. The results suggest that the initiative impacted positively on the likelihood of physical activity participation and meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines. Individuals in the intervention areas were on average 6% more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines compared to individuals in non-intervention areas. However, the absolute prevalence of physical activity participation declined in both intervention and control areas over time. Our evaluation of this active transport initiative indicates that similar programmes may aid in contributing to achieving physical activity targets and adds to the international evidence base on the benefits of active travel intervention.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Norwood P, Eberth B, Farrar S, Anable J, Ludbrook A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Science & Medicine

Year: 2014

Volume: 113

Pages: 50-58

Print publication date: 01/07/2014

Online publication date: 04/05/2014

Acceptance date: 02/05/2014

Date deposited: 16/05/2014

ISSN (print): 0037-7856

ISSN (electronic): 1879-2987

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.05.003


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