Comparison of three methods for measuring the time spent in physical activity

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Sep;32(9 Suppl):S457-64. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200009001-00004.


Purpose: Three methods for measuring time spent in daily physical activity (PA) were compared during a 21-d period among 83 adults (38 men and 45 women).

Methods: Each day, participants wore a Computer Science and Applications, Inc. (CSA) monitor and completed a 1-page, 48-item PA log that reflected time spent in household, occupational, transportation, sport, conditioning, and leisure activities. Once a week, participants also completed a telephone survey to identify the number of minutes spent each week in nonoccupational walking and in moderate intensity and hard/very hard-intensity PA. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Spearman rank-order correlations. Three equations developed to compute CSA cut points for moderate and hard/very hard PA were also compared with the PA logs and PA survey.

Results: There was modest to good agreement for the time spent in different PA intensity categories between the three CSA cut point methods (r = 0.43-0.94, P < 0.001). Correlations between the CSA and PA logs ranged from r = 0.22 to r = 0.36, depending on the comparisons. Correlations between the survey items and PA logs were r = 0.26-0.54 (P < 0.01) for moderate and walking activities and r < 0.09 (P > 0.05) for hard/very hard activities. Correlations between the survey items and the CSA min per day varied according to the method used to compute the CSA intensity cut points.

Conclusions: The results were consistent with findings from other PA validation studies that show motion sensors, PA logs, and surveys reflect PA; however, these methods do not always provide similar estimates of the time spent in resting/light, moderate, or hard/very hard PA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Walking