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Background: To date, no citation analysis has been conducted in the physical activity field, which can contribute to assess the impact of this research field and identify knowledge gaps. Therefore, this study aimed to identify the 500 most cited physical activity publications and report their bibliometric characteristics. Methods: The Web of Science database (all database indexes) was searched, and bibliometric characteristics were imported and calculated. Results: A total of 520 publications were ranked as the top 500. The sum of the citations was 326,258, and the average citation density was 41.0 (45.1) citations per year. Original research articles constituted the major portion of included publications (53.7%; 170,774 citations). Papers reporting relationship of physical activity with health were the most prevalent type of publication included (43.7%; 141,027 citations). Journal impact factor had a weak but significant positive correlation with citation density (r = .12; P = .006). The United States was ranked first in terms of the contributions from institutions and authors contributing to the most cited physical activity papers. Conclusions: Top physical activity publications are well cited compared with other health behavior fields. Original research reporting on the associations between physical activity and health has a higher citation impact compared with other types of original research within the physical activity field. The physical activity research field continues to expand rapidly as newer publications attract more citations in a shorter time span compared with older publications.
Memon is with the Institute of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Peoples University of Medical and Health Sciences for Women, Nawabshah (SBA), Sindh, Pakistan. To and Vandelanotte are with the Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD, Australia.