International Physical Activity Questionnaire: Validity against Fitness


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000194075.16960.20
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: This study was conducted to criterion-validate the short format of International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) against health-related fitness.

Methods: Participants included 951 men, aged 21-43 yr. V̇O2max by ergometer was used to measure cardiorespiratory fitness. Muscular fitness tests included the number of sit-ups, push-ups, and squats performed during 60 s. Physical activity was assessed from IPAQ by categories for health (health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA)) and by calculating total and vigorous MET-hours per week. The participants were classified in five groups of almost equal size by the IPAQ outcomes. Moreover, the frequency of vigorous activity was assessed by one precoded question (single-item question on leisure-time vigorous physical activity (SIVAQ)).

Results: The mean fitness improved from the first through the fourth IPAQ group. V̇O2max in the most active IPAQ group, however, was lower than in the fourth group (P < 0.05), both with HEPA categories and vigorous METs as the outcome. In contrast, the weekly frequency of vigorous physical activity showed a positive association with fitness through all six categories. The 65 sedentary (according to SIVAQ) and unfit individuals who belonged to the highest 20% (by IPAQ total METs) were older (30.6 ± 5.1 vs 28.9 ± 3.8, P = 0.02), more obese (waist 93 ± 12 vs 89 ± 10 cm), more often current smokers (59.4 vs 42.0%; P = 0.03), and less educated (<12 yr of education 70.8 vs 52.0%; P = 0.02), compared with the others in the highest IPAQ group.

Conclusions: Almost 10% of young men had poor fitness and apparently low physical activity, but they reported very high physical activity by IPAQ. An evident need therefore exists to develop IPAQ further to solve the apparent overreporting by a considerable proportion of sedentary individuals.

Author Information

1The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, FINLAND; 2Research Unit, Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Tampere, FINLAND; 3The Training Division of the Defence Staff, Finnish Defence Forces, Helsinki, FINLAND; 4Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, FINLAND; and 5Research Institute of Military Medicine, Central Military Hospital, Helsinki, FINLAND

Address for correspondence: Mikael Fogelholm, The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, POB 30, 33501 Tampere, Finland; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2005.

Accepted for publication October 2005.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine