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Is greater public transport use associated with higher levels of physical activity in a regional setting? Findings from a pilot study

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Background: Public transport users often accumulate more physical activity than motor vehicle users, but most studies have been conducted in large metropolitan areas with multiple public transport options with limited knowledge of the relationship in regional and rural areas. In a regional city, this pilot study aimed to (1) test the feasibility of preliminary hypotheses to inform future research, (2) test the utility of survey items, and (3) establish stakeholder engagement.

Methods: Data were collected via a cross-sectional online survey of 743 Tasmanian adults. Physical activity outcomes were walking (min/week), total moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (min/week) and attainment of physical activity guidelines (yes/no). Transport variables were frequency of public and private transport use per week. Truncated and log binomial regression examined associations between public/private transport use and physical activity.

Results: Neither frequency of public nor private transport use was associated with minutes of walking (public transport: B - 24.4, 95% CI: - 110.7, 61.9; private transport: B - 1.1, 95% CI: - 72.4, 70.1), minutes of total physical activity (public transport: B - 90.8, 95% CI: - 310.0, 128.5; private transport: B 0.4, 95% CI: - 134.0, 134.9) or not meeting physical activity guidelines (public transport: RR 1.02, 95%CI: 0.95, 1.09; private transport: RR 1.02, 95%CI: 0.96, 1.08).

Conclusions: The hypothesis that public transport users would be more physically active than private transport users was not supported in this pilot study. Stakeholders were engaged and involved in various phases of the research including development of research questions, participant recruitment, and interpretation of findings. Further studies using representative samples and refined measures are warranted to confirm or refute findings.


Publication title

Pilot and Feasibility Studies



Article number









Menzies Institute for Medical Research


BioMed Central

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, ( which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Behaviour and health

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