Comparison of the college alumnus questionnaire physical activity index with objective monitoring

Ann Epidemiol. 2004 Jul;14(6):409-15. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2003.07.001.


Purpose: Two methods of measuring physical activity (PA) were compared over a consecutive 7-day period among 25 adults (12 men and 13 women).

Methods: Each day estimates of energy expended in light, moderate, vigorous, and total PA were derived from the simultaneous heart-rate motion sensor (HR+M) technique. At the end of the 7-day period participants completed the College Alumnus Questionnaire Physical Activity Index (CAQ-PAI) and results were compared with HR+M technique estimates.

Results: Correlations between the two methods in the four activity categories ranged from r=0.20 to r=0.47, with vigorous and total PA showing higher associations than light and moderate PA. Mean levels of PA (MET-minxwk(-1)) obtained using the two methods were similar in the moderate and vigorous categories, but individual differences were large. Energy expended in light PA was significantly underestimated on the CAQ-PAI, resulting in lower total activity scores on this questionnaire as compared with the HR+M.

Conclusions: The CAQ-PAI accurately reflected mean moderate and vigorous activity in comparison with the HR+M technique. The results are consistent with other studies which have shown that physical activity questionnaires are better at assessing vigorous PA than ubiquitous light-moderate activities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Universities