Longer, more active commute, but still not very active: Five-year physical activity and travel behavior change in a university population

Lina Engelen, Erika Bohn-Goldbaum, Melanie Crane, Martin Mackey, Chris Rissel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Active travel can support the achievement of recommended levels of physical activity. Monitoring travel behavior of university students and staff provides a useful insight into patterns of regional travel and population level changes in physical activity. This study sought to evaluate current travel and physical activity behaviors in a university population and to determine whether these changed over time. An online survey of travel behavior and physical activity was conducted at the University of Sydney, Australia. The survey was actively promoted for three weeks prior to the release of the survey among staff and students, which asked about travel behavior on a specific day in September 2017. The survey questions were the same as those used in a similar online survey conducted across the University in 2012. In total, 4359 People completed the survey, representing 10.8% of staff and 4.1% of students. Approximately two thirds of survey respondents were students, in both the 2012 and 2017 surveys. Compared with 2012, there was an increase in active travel to the University in 2017 from increased walking and train travel. Compared to 2012, in 2017 there was an increase in average minutes walked by about nine minutes, and less time spent sitting. Trip lengths increased, with 68% of trips taking longer than 30 min in 2017. The amount of time spent in low–moderate levels physical activity increased between 2012 and 2017, potentially related to active travel behavior. Citywide changes towards a system-wide transport fare structure was the biggest change in the transport environment between the two surveys and may have contributed to increased train travel.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2420
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


  • Active transport
  • Physical activity
  • Public transport
  • University students


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