Travel survey leads to a healthier university

6 August 2013

The University of Sydney wants to understand how our community is currently travelling to and from campus, and look for opportunities for change that promote active travel.

"We really need to be doing more to encourage higher levels of physical activity, and increasing active travel is an effective and sustainable strategy" says Professor Chris Rissel, one of the leading researchers on a recent physical activity and travel behavior survey, that more than 3000 staff and students took part in. The first of a series, this survey provides baseline data on how staff and students get to, from and around our campuses.

Key findings include:

  • 32 percent of respondents travel to campus by train, 22 percent by car and 17 percent by bus, while 17 percent walk and only 6 percent cycle. Staff members were twice as likely to drive as students, and also slightly more likely to walk or cycle.
  • 41 percent were 'sufficiently active' (physical activity of 150 minutes per week), and those walking or cycling to campus were more likely to meet this criteria.
  • 43 percent were satisfied with their current level of physical activity
  • 68 percent were generally supportive of the concept of standing during lectures to reduce sitting time, a practice that is already in use in some classes and will be expanded to others in Semester Two.

The survey was supported by Healthy Sydney University, the university-wide commitment to making our university a health-promoting learning and working environment for students and staff. "The university spans many acres across locations around the state" said Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn, who chairs the Healthy Sydney University initiative, "and travel time to campus can be an opportunity - or a deterrent - for physical activity! This survey sheds light on the travel challenges for staff and students across the university network, leading to planning for site specific solutions".

Other health-oriented projects for the campus being considered are include a 'bicycle library' on campus, a trial promoting short standing breaks during lectures and a joint initiative with the Charles Perkins Centre to increase stair use in campus buildings.

Have your say

Join one of our four Healthy Sydney University working groups made up of staff and students from across the University. Are you interested in healthy eating? Join the Eating Better Group. Physical activity? Join the Move More, Sit Less Group. Mental wellbeing? Join the Mental Wellbeing Group. Ensuring health promoting activities become embedded in our everyday life in the University? Join the Embedding Group.

Contact Tessa Piper for more information on the Healthy Sydney University Initiative.

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