Physical activity and inactivity profiling: the next generation

Can J Public Health. 2007;98 Suppl 2:S195-207.


The accurate measurement of habitual physical activity is fundamental to the study of the relationship between physical activity and health. However, many physical activity measurement techniques produce variables accurate to only the day level, such as total energy expenditure via self-report questionnaire, pedometer step counts, or accelerometer measurements of minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Monitoring technologies providing more detailed information on physical activity and inactivity behaviour can now be used to explore the relationships between health and movement frequency, intensity, and duration more comprehensively. This paper explores the activity-inactivity profile that can be acquired through objective monitoring, with a focus on accelerometry. Using previously collected objective data, a detailed physical activity profile is presented and case study examples of data utilization and interpretation are provided. The rich detail captured through comprehensive profiling creates new surveillance and study possibilities and could possibly inform new physical activity guidelines. Data are presented in various formats to demonstrate the dangers of misinterpretation when monitoring population adherence to Canada's physical activity guidelines. Recommendations for physical activity-inactivity profiling are provided and future research needs identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Planning Guidelines
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Movement
  • Physical Fitness
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Public Health*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires