Reported physical activity and sedentary behavior: why do you ask?

J Phys Act Health. 2012 Jan:9 Suppl 1:S68-75. doi: 10.1123/jpah.9.s1.s68.


Context: Advances in device-based measures have led researchers to question the value of reported measures of physical activity or sedentary behavior. The premise of the Workshop on Measurement of Active and Sedentary Behaviors: Closing the Gaps in Self-Report Methods, held in July 2010, was that assessment of behavior by self-report is a valuable approach.

Objective: To provide suggestions to optimize the value of reported physical activity and sedentary behavior, we 1) discuss the constructs that devices and reports of behavior can measure, 2) develop a framework to help guide decision-making about the best approach to physical activity and sedentary behavior assessment in a given situation, and 3) address the potential for combining reported behavior methods with device-based monitoring to enhance both approaches.

Process: After participation in a workshop breakout session, coauthors summarized the ideas presented and reached consensus on the material presented here.

Conclusions: To select appropriate physical activity assessment methods and correctly interpret the measures obtained, researchers should carefully consider the purpose for assessment, physical activity constructs of interest, characteristics of the population and measurement tool, and the theoretical link between the exposure and outcome of interest.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Benchmarking
  • Education
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise Test / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Self Report*