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John R. Sirard, Peter Hannan, Gretchen J. Cutler and Dianne Nuemark-Sztainer


The purpose of this paper is to evaluate self-reported physical activity of young adults using 1-week and 1-year recall measures with an accelerometer as the criterion measure.


Participants were a subsample (N = 121, 24 ± 1.7 yrs) from a large longitudinal cohort study. Participants completed a detailed 1-year physical activity recall, wore an accelerometer for 1 week and then completed a brief 1-week physical activity recall when they returned the accelerometer.


Mean values for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) from the 3 instruments were 3.2, 2.2, and 13.7 hours/wk for the accelerometer, 1-week recall, and 1-year recall, respectively (all different from each other, P < .001). Spearman correlations for moderate, vigorous, and MVPA between the accelerometer and the 1-week recall (0.30, 0.50, and 0.40, respectively) and the 1-year recall (0.31, 0.42, and 0.44, respectively) demonstrated adequate validity.


Both recall instruments may be used for ranking physical activity at the group level. At the individual level, the 1-week recall performed much better in terms of absolute value of physical activity. The 1-year recall overestimated total physical activity but additional research is needed to fully test its validity.