Children who engage in active school transportation (AST) have higher levels of physical activity (PA). Climate and weather were shown to influence adults’ daily travel behaviours, but their influence on children’s AST and PA has been less examined. This study examined the influence of weather conditions on children’s AST and overall PA. Children in grades 4 to 6 (N = 1699; age, 10.2 ± 1.0 years) were recruited in schools located in urban, suburban and rural areas, stratified by area-level socioeconomic status, in 3 different regions of Canada (Trois-Rivières, Québec; Ottawa, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia). Mode of school travel was self-reported and physical activity was measured using a pedometer. We used publicly available data on total precipitation and early morning temperature. AST increased with temperature only among girls. Daily precipitation was negatively associated with boys’ and girls’ PA while warmer temperature was associated with increased PA on weekend days. We also observed that season and region moderated the relationship between weather conditions and children’s physical activity behaviours. Our results suggest that daily weather variations influence children’s AST and PA to a greater extent than seasonal variations. Interventions designed to help children and families adapt to weather-related barriers to AST and PA are needed.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute