BACKGROUND: Detailed knowledge about physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) can guide the development of school interventions aimed at reducing overweight in adolescents. However, relevant components of PAEE have never been objectively quantified in this population. This study investigated the contribution of active transport to and from school, physical education (PE), and leisure time activities to total PAEE during a regular school week in adolescents.
METHODS: Seventy-three adolescents (mean age: 15.7 years) wore an individually calibrated combined heart rate-acceleration monitor and kept an activity diary during a regular school week. Branched equation modeling was used to calculate PAEE of the specific activity categories, and their relative contribution to total PAEE was determined.
RESULTS: Active transport and PE contributed 30.0% and 17.4%, respectively, to school-related PAEE. Active transport to and from school contributed 15% to total PAEE. Youth with a high physical activity level (PAL) spent 4 hours less in sedentary behavior than subjects with a medium or low PAL (F = 77.415 (2.70), p < .001) and had higher PAEE during leisure time sports (F = 9.135 (2.70), p < .001) and work-related activities (F = 10.583 (2.70), p < .001) than youth with medium or low PAL values.
CONCLUSIONS: Active transport and PE contribute significantly to PAEE during school hours in adolescents. To achieve an increase in total PAEE in the least active group of adolescents, promising strategies might be to reduce inactive behavior, increase participation in leisure time sports, and possibly to replace inactive for active jobs.