A comparison of subjective and objective measures of physical activity and fitness in identifying associations with cardiometabolic risk factors

Ann Epidemiol. 2008 May;18(5):378-86. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2008.01.005.


Purpose: To compare the ability of alternative measures of physical activity and fitness to quantify associations with health outcomes.

Methods: Associations between a range of subjective and objective physical activity and fitness measures and cardiometabolic risk factors were examined using data from 1,631 Australians aged 26-36 years. Anthropometry, fitness, blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose, insulin, and lipids were measured at study clinics. Participants completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and 7-day pedometer diaries; they also reported sedentary behavior (sitting, television viewing).

Results: In men and women, associations were strongest for fitness, with those in the highest (vs. lowest) fitness quarter having a 75% to 80% lower prevalence of two or more primary risk factors (waist circumference, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and insulin resistance). In men, a 60% to 70% reduced prevalence of two or more risk factors was observed across extreme quarters of IPAQ leisure, IPAQ vigorous, sitting duration, and pedometer measures. Similar reductions in prevalence were observed only across extreme quarters of pedometer activity and television viewing in women.

Conclusions: Associations between alternative measures and cardiometabolic risk were relatively independent, suggesting that a range of physical activity and fitness measures may be needed to most accurately quantify associations between physical activity and health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Motor Activity*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Risk Factors