What modes of transport are associated with higher levels of physical activity? Cross-sectional study of New Zealand adults

 Published in the Journal of Transport and Health

Authors: Caroline Shaw, Michael Keall, Hayley Guiney



Active travel is seen as a way to increase net population physical activity. This paper examines whether people in New Zealand who walk, cycle or use public transport to get to their main weekday activity have higher net physical activity levels.


Data come from the nationally representative cross-sectional Health and Lifestyles Surveys undertaken in 2012 and 2014. Logistic regression was used to examine the sociodemographic correlates of walking, cycling or using public transport and to examine associations between mode of transport to main activity and meeting the New Zealand physical activity guidelines.


People who walk or cycle to their main activity are 76% more likely to meet physical activity guidelines, but those who take public transport are no more likely (OR 1.15 95% CI: 0.80 to 1.65). The association between walking or cycling and meeting physical activity guidelines is seen for both those in-work and those not in-work.


There are complex cross-sectional relationships between level of physical activity and mode of transport to main activity in New Zealand. Encouraging walking and cycling to main activity may be a way of increasing population physical activity in New Zealand; however, the association with public transport needs further investigation.