The accuracy of self-reports of physical activity

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990 Oct;22(5):690-7. doi: 10.1249/00005768-199010000-00022.


This investigation determined the accuracy of self-reports of physical activity compared to observations obtained surreptitiously. Subjects were 44 adults engaged in 1 h of their preferred physical activity while actual activity levels were surreptitiously obtained and compared to immediate self-reported estimates of physical activity. Results indicated that subjects were moderately accurate in recalling their physical activity levels (R = 0.62) but underestimated sedentary activities and overestimated aerobic activities by over 300%. Males overestimated their activity relative to females, and obese subjects underestimated their activity levels compared to normal-weight subjects. Finally, a number of two-way interactions that moderated the accuracy of those subjects engaging in high chronic levels of physical activity were observed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Sex Factors