Are Active Australia physical activity questions valid for older adults?

J Sci Med Sport. 2011 May;14(3):233-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2010.11.004. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


Objective: The Active Australia Survey (AAS) is used for physical activity (PA) surveillance in the general Australian adult population, but its validity in older adults has not been evaluated. Our aim was to examine the convergent validity of the AAS questions in older adults.

Design: The AAS was validated against pedometer step counts as an objective measure of PA, self-reported physical function, and a step-test to assess cardiorespiratory fitness.

Method: Participants were community-dwelling adults, aged 65-89 y, with the ability to walk 100 m. They completed a self-administered AAS and the step-test in one interview. One week earlier, they completed the Short Form-36 physical function subscale. Between these two interviews, they each wore a YAMAX Digiwalker SW200 pedometer and recorded daily steps. Using the AAS data, daily walking minutes and total PA minutes (walking, moderate-intensity PA and vigorous-intensity PA) were compared with the validity measures using Spearman rank-order correlations. Fifty-three adults completed the study.

Results: Median daily walking minutes were 34.2 (interquartile range [IQR] 17.1, 60.0), and median daily total PA minutes were 68.6 (IQR 31.4, 113.6). Walking and total PA minutes were both moderately correlated with pedometer steps (Spearman correlation r=0.42, p=0.003, for each) but not with step-test seconds to completion (r=-0.11, p=0.44; r=-0.25, p=0.08, respectively). Total PA minutes were significantly correlated with physical function scores (r=0.39, p=0.004), but walking minutes were not (r=0.15, p=0.29).

Conclusions: This initial examination of the psychometric properties of the AAS for older adults suggests that this surveillance tool has acceptable convergent validity for ambulatory, community-dwelling older adults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Motor Activity*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Self-Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Walking