Active school commuting is widely regarded as a key opportunity for youth to participate in physical activity (PA). However, the accurate measurement of the commute home from school and its contribution to total free-living moderateto- vigorous PA (MVPA) is relatively unexplored.
Seventy-five adolescents (38 males, 37 females) wore an integrated GPS and heart rate device during after-school hours for 4 consecutive weekdays.
Active commuters were significantly more active (11.72 minutes MVPA) than passive commuters (3.5 minutes MVPA) during their commute home from school (P = .001). The commute home of walkers and cyclists on average contributed 35% of their total free-living PA. However, there was no significant difference in the overall free-living PA levels of passive and active commuters (P > .05). A total 92.7% of the youth living within 1.5 miles of the school actively commuted, compared with 16.7% of the youth who lived further away. Socioeconomic differences in commuting patterns were also evident.
The findings highlighted the significant proportion of total free-living PA that was attributed to active commuting home from school. The study demonstrates the usefulness of utilizing GPS and heart rate data to accurately track young people’s after-school PA. Demographic influences and implications for future research are discussed.