Purpose: Prevalence estimates of meeting the guidelines for physical activity based on various self-report measures were compared, and the effects of various scoring protocols on the estimates were evaluated.
Method: A sample of 575 university students aged 24.5 +/- 1.9 yr (56% women, 54% Euro-American) completed the Seven-Day Physical Activity Recall interview (PAR), Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), and National Health Interview Survey 1991 (NHIS). To determine the prevalence of meeting the ACSM (1990) fitness and the CDC/ACSM (1995) health-related guidelines, various scoring protocols were employed that closely approximated the recommendations. Protocols varied by whether frequency and duration or duration only were considered. For the health-related guidelines, scoring protocols also varied depending on the intensity of activities considered.
Results: Depending on the scoring protocol and instrument used, the proportion meeting the fitness guidelines ranged from 32 to 59%. The NHIS, YRBS, and PAR resulted in significantly different proportions of those meeting the health-related guideline, ranging from 4 to 70%.
Conclusion: The type of measure as well as the scoring protocol affected prevalence estimates of meeting the physical activity guidelines. This study indicates the difficulty of comparing prevalence rates across studies using different measures.