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Learn more about the measures of active travel across selected CLOSER studies

For background detail on this domain of physical activity, click here.

Active travel was measured many times across the longitudinal studies from ages 4y to 60-64y, with data collected in ALPAC, MCS, BCS70, NCDS, and NSHD (see the tables in the page below). Largely, there were three different themes of active travel including (1) travel to school/ childcare/ and college, (2) travel to work, and (3) general and/or other nonspecific travel. Typically, active travel responses were either in walking or cycling, but in one case (ALSPAC age 13y) responses of skateboarding and scooter were also provided.

Click to see the cross-study data availability and comparability for each active travel subdomain:

Travel to school

ALSPAC 6y, 8y, 13y, 16y and MCS 5y, 7y, and 14y ask identical questions on travel to school (“how does [cohort member] get to school and back”), and the method of active travel (walking or cycling) can be compared across all measures. Additionally, responses in duration (minutes) can be compared in MCS 14y and ALSPAC 13y and 16y. These may therefore be comparable in terms of absolute physical activity levels.

BCS70 16y asks specifically about cycling (“use of bicycle in last 2 weeks: a) to go to school”) and may be compared to ALSPAC 13y, 16y and MCS 14y questions on use of cycling.

[table id=272 /]


Active travel to work

NSHD 36y and NCDS 44y ask similar questions on travel to work (NSHD: a) “Do you normally use a bike on your way to work, or for part of the way?” b) “On your way to work do you normally walk for five minutes of more on each journey?”; NCDS: “How do you usually travel to work?”), and activity engaged in (cycling or walking) is comparable across measures.

NSHD 36y and NCDS 44y both measure duration, although response options are in different units (NSHD: minutes; NCDS: miles). However these could potentially be converted (e.g. using the average minutes per mile) to derive a common measure of duration.

[table id=273 /]


General active travel

While there appear to be no measures at similar ages, ALSPAC 22y, BCS70 34y, and NCDS 46y ask similar questions on general travel (i.e. ALSPAC: “Do you make regular journeys every day or most days”; BCS70/NCDS: “what is your main form of transport”), with comparable activities (cycling or walking) across each measure.

[table id=274 /]


Explore the other domains of physical activity & the comparability of measurements across studies:

Learn more about the studies covered by this guide and their measurement of physical activity:

Further information:

This page is part of the CLOSER resource: ‘Physical activity across age and study: a guide to data in six CLOSER studies’.