Active Transportation and Public Transportation Use to Achieve Physical Activity Recommendations? A Combined GPS, Accelerometer, and Mobility Survey Study
Background: Accurate information is lacking on the extent of transportation as a source of physical activity, on the physical activity gains from public transportation use, and on the extent to which population shifts in the use of transportation modes could increase the percentage of people reaching official physical activity recommendations.Methods: In 2012-2013, 234 participants of the RECORD GPS Study (French Paris region, median age = 58) wore a portable GPS receiver and an accelerometer for 7 consecutive days and completed a 7-day GPS-based mobility survey (participation rate = 57.1%). Information on transportation modes and accelerometry data aggregated at the trip level [number of steps taken, energy expended, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and sedentary time] were available for 7,644 trips. Associations between transportation modes and accelerometer-derived physical activity were estimated at the trip level with multilevel linear models.Results: Participants spent a median of 1 h 58 min per day in transportation (8.2% of total time). Thirty-eight per-cent of steps taken, 31% of energy expended, and 33% of MVPA over 7 days were attributable to transportation. Walking and biking trips but also public transportation trips with all four transit modes examined were associated with greater steps, MVPA, and energy expenditure when compared to trips by personal motorized vehicle. Two simulated scenarios, implying a shift of approximately 14% and 33% of all motorized trips to public transportation or walking, were associated with a predicted 6 point and 13 point increase in the percentage of participants achieving the current physical activity recommendation.Conclusions: Collecting data with GPS receivers, accelerometers, and a GPS-based electronic mobility survey of activities and transportation modes allowed us to investigate relationships between transportation modes and physical activity at the trip level. Our findings suggest that an increase in active transportation participation and public transportation use may have substantial impacts on the percentage of people achieving physical activity recommendations.