Validity of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire in the Arctic


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 4 - p 728–736
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31827a6b40

Purpose: Information about physical activity (PA) in Greenland is limited, partly because of a lack of validated instruments in countries with non-Western living conditions. We modified the long form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ-L) to arctic living conditions. The aim of the study was to compare IPAQ-L estimates with combined accelerometry and heart rate monitoring (ACC + HR) in a population-based study of adult Inuit in Greenland.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected by face-to-face interview and ACC + HR monitoring among Inuit (18 yr and above) in Greenland during 2005–2010 (n = 1508). PA energy expenditure (PAEE) and time spent sedentary and on PA at moderate and vigorous intensity were derived from IPAQ-L and ACC + HR. Estimates were compared using Bland–Altman agreement analysis and Spearman correlations stratified by sex, place of residence (capital, towns, and villages), and age groups.

Results: Questionnaire-based PAEE was moderately correlated with objectively measured PAEE (r = 0.20–0.35, P < 0.01). Self-reported time spent at moderate- and vigorous-intensity PA and time spent sedentary were weakly correlated with the objective measure (r = 0.11–0.31). Agreement analyses showed relatively small median differences for all measures of PA; however, time spent at moderate-intensity PA was substantially overreported by IPAQ-L when including walking (>1.5 h·d−1, P < 0.001) but not when excluding walking.

Conclusions: The IPAQ-L adapted to arctic living conditions in Greenland had a moderate level of agreement with combined accelerometry and heart rate monitoring for total PAEE at population level, but it was less valid to measure different intensities of PA and sedentary activity. Validity did not differ markedly between rural and urban communities.

1National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, DENMARK; 2Steno Diabetes Center, Gentofte, DENMARK; and 3MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Inger Katrine Dahl-Petersen, MSPH National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Øster Farimagsgade 5A,2, DK 1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark; E-mail:

Submitted for publication August 2012.

Accepted for publication October 2012.

©2013The American College of Sports Medicine