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Impact of New Rapid Transit on Physical Activity: A Meta-analysis

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New rapid transit investments have been motivated by environmental, economic, and health benefits. Given transit's potential to increase active travel, recent research leverages transit changes for natural experiment studies to examine physical activity outcomes. We aimed to quantify the association size, critically examine existing literature, and make recommendations for future studies to advance research and policies on active travel, transportation, and physical activity. Studies of physical activity impacts following transit interventions were systematically reviewed using seven health and transport databases (May–July 2017). Two investigators extracted data on sample size, intervention, pre- and post-intervention physical activity, and relevant measurement information. Inconsistency of results and estimated overall mean physical activity change post-intervention were assessed. Forest plots were created from physical activity change in each study using a general variance-based random effects model. Of 18 peer-reviewed articles examining health behaviors, 15 addressed physical activity and five were natural experiment studies with pre- and post- intervention measurements. Studies varied by intervention, duration, outcome measurement, sampling location, and spatial method. Q (201) and I2 (98%) indicated high study heterogeneity. Among these five studies, after transit interventions, total physical activity decreased (combined mean - 80.4 min/week, 95% CI - 157.9, −2.9), but transport-related physical activity increased (mean 6.7 min/week, 95% CI - 10.1, 23.5). Following new transit infrastructure, total physical activity may decline but transport-related physical activity may increase. Positive transit benefits were location, sociodemographic, or activity-specific. Future studies should address context, ensure adequate follow-up, utilize controls, and consider non-residential environments or participants.
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Hirsch, Jana & DeVries, Danielle & Brauer, Michael & Frank, Lawrence & Winters, Meghan. (June 2018). Impact of new rapid transit on physical activity: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports. 10. DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.03.008.
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Preventive Medicine Reports
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Impact of New Rapid Transit on Physical Activity: A Meta-analysis
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