Active Transportation and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in U.S. Adults

Many Americans fail to obtain minimum physical activity recommendations; active transportation may improve health outcomes. This study examines the association between active transportation (walking and bicycling for transportation), and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Utilizing 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), 9,933 adults were classified into five different levels of active transportation. Description statistics, linear regression, and stratified analyses were conducted to assess associations.

Key Findings:

  • Of the final sample, 43 percent did not meet physical activity recommendations.
  • A total of 76 percent of individuals did not walk or bike to work more than 10 minutes continuously in a typical week.
  • Nineteen percent of individuals engaged in no physical activity of any form.
  • Individuals engaging in the highest level of active transportation were younger and more likely to be male, Mexican-American, lower income, and less than high school educated, compared to those engaging in no or low active transportation.
  • Engaging in active transportation was associated with lower BMI, smaller waist circumference, and lower odds of hypertension and diabetes as compared to individuals with no active transportation.

This study demonstrates that active transportation is associated with favorable cardiovascular disease risk factor profiles. In an effort to improve health outcomes among U.S. adults, promoting and permitting active transportation may prove beneficial.