Testing Compensation: Does Recreational Basketball Impact Adult Activity Levels?

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Current guidelines encourage adults to perform regular physical activity (PA) for optimal health, yet the majority of adults fail to meet the guidelines. One explanation for the difficulty in adding PA to meet recommended levels is an internal PA control center that may result in a compensatory lowering of normal activity levels after “added activity” sessions during the day. The purpose of this study was to test the compensation hypothesis by assessing PA on days of “added” PA among adults.


Twenty middle-aged adults recorded daily step counts, in addition to step counts and minutes of basketball play. To test for compensation, step counts on nonbasketball days were compared with steps counts on basketball days (excluding basketball steps).


No significant differences (F = 0.711) were found between groups. In summary, no compensatory decrease in PA was identified on basketball participation days in this population. When steps in basketball were added, differences (P = .01) in daily step counts existed between basketball days (mean = 15,568) and nonbasketball days (mean = 8,408).


These results suggest that “added” PA (basketball) does not result in compensatory reductions in typical daily PA on days of “added” activity for the population studied.

Lynch is with the Department of Exercise & Wellness, Arizona State University, and ProVention Plus; Corbin is with the Department of Exercise & Wellness, Arizona State University; and Sidman is with the Department of Health & Applied Human Sciences, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.