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Correlates of Children’s Independent Mobility in Canada: A Multi-Site Study

School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Département des sciences de l’activité physique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, QC G8Z 4M3, Canada
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4, Canada
Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, ON K1H 8L1, Canada
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Centre, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2862;
Received: 26 June 2019 / Revised: 4 August 2019 / Accepted: 6 August 2019 / Published: 10 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Children Health)
PDF [352 KB, uploaded 10 August 2019]


Globally, physical inactivity is a concern, and children’s independent mobility (CIM) may be an important target behavior for addressing the physical inactivity crisis. The aim of this study was to examine correlates of CIM (8–12 years old) in the Canadian context to inform future interventions. CIM was measured via parent surveys. Individual, social, and environmental correlates of CIM were examined using a social–ecological framework. 1699 participants’ data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and gender-stratified linear mixed-effects models while controlling for site, area-level socioeconomic status, and type of urbanization. Individual correlates including child grade (β = 0.612, p < 0.001), language spoken at home (β = −0.503, p < 0.001), car ownership (β = −0.374, p < 0.05), and phone ownership (β = 0.593, p < 0.001) were associated with CIM. For boys, parental gender (β = −0.387, p < 0.01) was negatively associated with CIM. Parents’ perceptions of safety and environment were significantly associated with CIM. Location (i.e., site) was significantly associated with CIM (ref: Trois-Rivières; Ottawa (β = −1.188, p < 0.001); Vancouver (β = −1.216, p < 0.001)). Suburban environments were negatively associated with boys’ independent mobility (β = −0.536, p < 0.05), while walkability (400 m β = 0.064, p < 0.05; 1600 m β = −0.059, p < 0.05) was significantly associated with girls’ independent mobility only. Future research and interventions should consider targeting “modifiable factors” like children’s and parents’ perceptions of neighborhood safety and environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: active transportation; built environment; socioeconomic status; physical activity; social–ecological framework; urbanization active transportation; built environment; socioeconomic status; physical activity; social–ecological framework; urbanization
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Riazi, N.A.; Blanchette, S.; Trudeau, F.; Larouche, R.; Tremblay, M.S.; Faulkner, G. Correlates of Children’s Independent Mobility in Canada: A Multi-Site Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2862.

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