Cycling to School and Body Composition, Physical Fitness, and Metabolic Syndrome in Children and Adolescents

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the association between cycling to/from school and body composition, physical fitness, and metabolic syndrome among a sample of Colombian children and adolescents.

Study design

During the 2014–2015 school year, we examined a cross-sectional component of the Association for muscular strength with early manifestation of cardiovascular disease risk factors among Colombian children and adolescents (FUPRECOL) study. Participants included 2877 youths (54.5% girls) from Bogota, Colombia. A self-reported questionnaire was used to measure the frequency and mode of commuting to school. Four components of physical fitness were measured: (1) anthropometric (height, weight, body mass index, and waist circumference); (2) musculoskeletal (handgrip and standing long jump test); (3) motor (speed-agility test; 4 × 10-meter shuttle run); and (4) cardiorespiratory (20-m shuttle run test [20mSRT]). The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was determined by the definitions provided by the International Diabetes Federation.

Results

Twenty-three percent of the sample reported commuting by cycle. Active commuting boys had a likelihood of having an unhealthy 4 × 10 m value (OR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.53–0.98; P = .038) compared with the reference group (passive commuters). Active commuting girls showed a lower likelihood of having unhealthy a 20mSRT value (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.56–0.99; P = .047) and metabolic syndrome (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.35–0.99; P = .048) compared with passive commuters.

Conclusion

Regular cycling to school may to be associated with better physical fitness and a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome than passive transport, especially in girls.

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