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Children’s active transport (e.g. walking/cycling to local destinations) and independent mobility (i.e. their freedom to move around their neighbourhood or similar without adult accompaniment; Hillman et al. , 1990) are key behaviours that contribute to children’s health and wellbeing. However, compared with previous generations, children in developed nations engage less in active transport and have lower levels of independent mobility (Hillman et al. , 1990; Valentine, 1997; Shaw et al. , 2013). This chapter describes how these behaviours are benefi cial to children’s physical and mental health and why declines in these behaviours are of public health concern. Linking with the fi eld of health geography (Brown et al. , 2009) and guided by ecological models of health behaviours (Sallis and Owen, 1997), I examine social and physical environmental predictors of children’s unsupervised active travel and outdoor play in urban neighbourhoods. Interventions and strategies aimed at promoting walking and cycling to school and local places are described, along with implications for urban planning and policy.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Book Chapter

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