Is physical activity higher among public transport or motor vehicle users in a regional setting?

Dr Verity Cleland1, Ms Bruna Ragaini1, Dr Melanie Sharman1, Dr Anna Lyth2, Mr Corey Peterson1, A/Prof Fay Johnston1, Prof Andrew Palmer1, Prof Leigh Blizzard1, Ms Julie Williams3, Ms Elaine Marshall3, Ms Megan Morse4, Dr Jagannath Aryal1, Dr Kim Jose1

1University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,

2RED Sustainability Consultants, Hobart, Australia,

3Public Health Services, Tasmanian Department of Health, Hobart, Australia,

4Metro Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


Public transport (PT) users accumulate more physical activity (PA) than motor vehicle users, but most studies have been in metropolitan areas. This study aimed to establish whether public or private transport use is associated with higher PA in a regional city. Data were from an online survey (n=743) of Tasmanian adults during March-April 2017. PA outcomes were walking (min/week), total PA (min/week) and meeting PA guidelines; transport variables were weekly frequency of public and private transport use. Truncated (continuous variables) and log binomial (binary variables) regression were used to examine associations between public/private transport and PA. Frequency of public/private transport use was not associated with walking (PT: β -24.4, 95% CI: -110.7, 61.9; private transport: β -1.1, 95% CI: -72.4, 70.1), total PA (PT: β -90.8, 95% CI: -310.0, 128.5; private transport:  β 0.4, 95% CI: -134.0, 134.9) or meeting PA guidelines (PT: RR 1.00, 95% CI: 0.97, 1.02; private transport: RR 0.99, 95%CI: 0.98, 1.01). Findings suggest that the relationship between PA and transport behaviours in regional settings may differ to that observed in urban centres. This may be related to unique aspects of ‘place’ that impact both PA and PT use and requires further investigation in this context.


Dr Verity Cleland, PhD(Med Res) BAppSc(Health Promot)(Hons), is a behavioural epidemiologist and Heart Foundation-funded Future Leader Fellow. She leads a Physical Activity and Public Health Research Group and is interested in understanding how the built and policy environment impacts on physical activity behaviour, and whether changes to these environments can help support active lifestyles.

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