Self-Report vs. Objectively Assessed Physical Activity: Which Is Right for Public Health?

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Tom Loney
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Martyn Standage
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Dylan Thompson
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Simon J. Sebire
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Sean Cumming
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Background:

To examine the agreement between self-reported and objectively assessed physical activity (PA) according to current public health recommendations.

Methods:

One-hundred and fourteen British University students wore a combined accelerometer and heart rate monitor (Actiheart; AHR) to estimate 24-hour energy expenditure over 7 consecutive days. Data were extracted based on population-based MET-levels recommended to improve and maintain health. On day 8, participants were randomly assigned to complete either the short-form International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) or the Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (LTEQ). Estimates of duration (IPAQ; N = 46) and frequency (LTEQ; N = 41) of PA were compared with those recorded by the AHR.

Results:

Bland-Altman analysis showed the mean bias between the IPAQ and AHR to be small for moderate-intensity and total PA, however the 95% limits of agreement (LOA) were wide. The mean number of moderate bouts of PA estimated by the LTEQ was similar to those derived by the AHR but the 95% LOA between the 2 measures were large.

Conclusions:

Although self-report questionnaires may provide an approximation of PA at a population level, they may not determine whether an individual is participating in the type, intensity, and amount of PA advocated in current public health recommendations.

The authors are with the Dept of Health, Sport and Exercise Science Research Group, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.

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