Accelerometry and Self-Report Are Congruent for Children’s Moderate-to-Vigorous and Higher Intensity Physical Activity

in Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour
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  • 1 University of Bern
  • | 2 Colorado State University
  • | 3 Rochester Institute of Technology
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Purpose: This study used different analytic approaches to compare physical activity (PA) metrics from accelerometers (ACC) and a self-report questionnaire in upper elementary youth participating in the Fuel for Fun intervention. Methods: The PA questionnaire and ACC were assessed at baseline/preintervention (fall fourth grade), Follow-up 1/postintervention (spring fourth grade), and Follow-up 2 (fall fifth grade) of 564 fourth grade students from three elementary schools (50% females, 78% White, and 28% overweight or obese). Different analytic approaches identified similarities and differences between the two methods. Results: On average, self-report was higher than ACC for vigorous PA (range = 9–15 min/day), but lower than ACC for moderate PA (range = 24–30 min/day), light PA (range = 30–36 min/day), and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; range = 9–21 min/day). Spearman’s correlations for vigorous PA (.30, .26, and .32); moderate PA (.12, .13, and .14); and MVPA (.25, .25, and .24) were significant at each time point (all ps ≤ .01), whereas correlations for light PA were not significant (.06, .04, and .07; all ps > .05). In repeated-measures analyses, ACC and questionnaire measures were significantly different from each other across the three time points; however, change difference of the two measures over time was only 5.5 MVPA min/day. Conclusions: The PA questionnaire and ACC validated each other and can be used to assess MVPA in upper elementary school children in a similar population to the current study. However, each assessment method captures unique information, especially for light-intensity PA. Multiple PA measurement methods are recommended to be used in research and application to provide a more comprehensive understanding of children’s activity.

Nigg is with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland. Burg and Cunningham-Sabo are with the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA. Lohse is with the Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, USA.

Nigg (claudio.nigg@ispw.unibe.ch) is corresponding author.
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