Active travel to work in New South Wales 2005–2010, individual characteristics and association with body mass index



Objective: This study describes the prevalence of walking and cycling to work in New South Wales (NSW) from 2005–2010. It examines the demographic characteristics of those people walking and cycling to work and the association of walking and cycling with body mass index (BMI).

Methods: Data from the NSW Continuous Health Survey, a telephone survey of health indicators among a representative sample of residents aged 16 years or over, were used.

Results: There were no changes in the proportions of employed respondents walking or cycling to work in NSW from 2005 to 2010, with estimates ranging from 5.1–7.3% usually walking, and 1.4–1.8% usually cycling. People who walked (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=1.07, 95%CI 1.00–1.14) or cycled (AOR=1.22, 95%CI 1.14–1.32) to work had higher levels of education, after adjusting for age, sex, income and residence.

Conclusions: There has been no overall increase in active commuting in NSW (2005–2010). Better efforts to communicate the benefits of active travel and less sedentary travel are warranted, in particular among those with lower levels of education.

Implications: More interventions are needed to encourage walking and cycling to work, in order to gain significant benefits in terms of maintaining a healthy weight.