Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Built Environment and Active Transport to School (BEATS) Study

What is this study about?

The lack of physical activity and increase of sedentary lifestyle in adolescents is a global health problem. Active transport (walking or cycling) to school is a convenient way to integrate physical activity into everyday life and maintain or increase physical activity levels.

The BEATS Study investigates transport to school habits, the neighbourhood environment and physical activity of high school students living in the Otago region. The study involves surveys and focus groups with students and parents, and an interview with a school principal.

In 2019-2020, we will be recruiting Dunedin secondary schools for participating in the BEATS Natural Experiment (subject to funding):

The BEATS Study Poster (271 KB)

Why is this study important?

The findings from this study will provide valuable and unique information for  schools, city councils, transport agencies and land planners.

The results will suggest potential ways to encourage students’ active transport to school and increase physical activity levels in adolescents.

The results will also help inform future interventions for built environment change, education campaigns, school policy development and city/regional policy development.

Encouraging active transport to school among adolescents and using active transport to school as a means of increasing physical activity will promote obesity-preventing lifestyles and improve cardiovascular health.



This study is collaboration between the University of Otago, the Dunedin Secondary Schools' Partnership, the Dunedin City Council and New Zealand Transport Agency.

This study has been approved by the University of Otago Ethics Committee:

  • The BEATS Study (2013-2017) (Ethics reference number: 13/203)
  • The BEATS Rural Study (2018-2019) (Ethics reference number: 17/178)
  • The BEATS-2 Study (2019-2020) (Ethics approval pending)

The BEATS Study is one line of research conducted at the Active Living Laboratory.


The original BEATS Study (2013-2017) was funded by Health Research Council, National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, Lottery Health Research Grant, University of Otago Research Grant, Dunedin City Council and internal grants from the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences.

The BEATS Rural Study has been funded by the University of Otago Research Grant.