Associations Between Active Commuting to School and Objectively Measured Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

To provide more accurate assessment of commuting behavior and potential health effect, it is important to have accurate methods. Therefore, the current study aimed to a) compare questionnaire reported mode of commuting with objectively measured data from accelerometer and cycle computer, b) compare moderate vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among children cycling vs. walking to school, and c) thus calculate possible underestimated MVPA, when using accelerometers to measure commuter cycling.

Methods:

A total of 78 children, average age 11.4 (SD = 0.5), participated in the study. Physical activity was measured with cycle computers and accelerometers for 4 days. Mode of commuting and demographic information was self-reported in a questionnaire.

Results:

Children who reported to cycle to school spent significantly more time cycling than those who walked to school, 53.6 (SD = ± 33.9) minutes per day vs. 25.5 (SD = ± 24.6) minutes per day (P = .002) (ie, showing that MVPA, measured by accelerometers, underestimated 28.1 minutes per day among children cycling to school vs. those not cycling to school).

Conclusion:

To provide more accurate assessment of active commuting in children and adolescents future studies should incorporate multiple methodologies such as global position systems (GPS), accelerometers, cycle computers, and self-reported measurements.

Børrestad is with the Dept of Public Health, Sport, and Nutrition, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Gimlemoen, Norway. Østergaard is with the Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. Andersen is with the Dept of Research in Childhood Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. Bere is with the Faculty of Health and Sports, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Agder, Norway.