Stepping It Up: Walking Behaviors in Children Transitioning from 5th to 7th Grade

The purpose of this study was to (1) describe children’s walking behaviors in 5th to 7th grade and change over time and (2) examine associations between walking behaviors and Walk Score®. Participants consisted of n = 586 students from the Transitions and Activity Changes in Kids (TRACK) Study. Children reported any walking behavior (e.g., exercise and transportation) over the past five days. Walk Score was calculated based on children’s home address. Descriptive statistics summarized walking behaviors by gender and time, and repeated measure mixed models examined the relationship between walking behaviors and Walk Score. Approximately 46.8% and 19.2% of 5th grade children reported walking for exercise and transportation, respectively, and these percentages declined through 7th grade. Girls reported higher levels of total walking behavior and walking for exercise than boys (p < 0.001). Girls with a higher Walk Score had 63% higher odds of reporting walking for transportation than girls with a lower Walk Score (OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.02, 2.62). Walking behaviors among children were infrequent with significant declines over time, and of the nine associations examined with Walk Score, only one was significant. Efforts should prioritize frequent walking behavior and community design to increase children’s physical activity.