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Comparison of Self-reported versus Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity

Dyrstad, Sindre M.1; Hansen, BjØrge H.2; Holme, Ingar M.2; Anderssen, Sigmund A.2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 1 - p 99–106
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a0595f

Introduction The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) is one of the most widely used questionnaires to assess physical activity (PA). Validation studies for the IPAQ have been executed, but still there is a need for studies comparing absolute values between IPAQ and accelerometer in large population studies.

Purpose To compare PA and sedentary time from the self-administered, short version of the IPAQ with data from ActiGraph accelerometer in a large national sample.

Methods A total of 1751 adults (19–84 yr) wore an accelerometer (ActiGraph GT1M) for seven consecutive days and completed the IPAQ–Short Form. Sedentary time, total PA, and time spent in moderate to vigorous activity were compared in relation to sex, age, and education.

Results Men and women reported, on average, 131 min·d−1 (SE = 4 min·d−1) less sedentary time compared with the accelerometer measurements. The difference between self-reported and measured sedentary time and vigorous-intensity PA was greatest among men with a lower education level and for men 65 yr and older. Although men reported 47% more moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) compared with women, there were no differences between sexes in accelerometer-determined MVPA. Accelerometer-determined moderate PA was reduced from 110 to 42 min·d−1 (62%) when analyzed in blocks of 10 min (P < 0.0001) compared with 1-min blocks. The main correlation coefficients between self-reported variables and accelerometer measures of physical activity were between 0.20 and 0.46.

Conclusions The participants report through IPAQ–Short Form more vigorous PA and less sedentary time compared with the accelerometer. The difference between self-reported and accelerometer-measured MVPA increased with higher activity and intensity levels. Associations between the methods were affected by sex, age, and education, but not body mass index.

1Department of Education and Sport Science, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, NORWAY; and 2Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, NORWAY

Address for correspondence: Sindre M. Dyrstad, PhD, Department of Education and Sport Science, University of Stavanger, 4036 Stavanger, Norway; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2012.

Accepted for publication June 2013.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine