To total amount of activity….. and beyond: perspectives on measuring physical behavior

Front Psychol. 2013 Jul 22;4:463. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00463. eCollection 2013.


The aim of this paper is to describe and discuss some perspectives on definitions, constructs, and outcome parameters of physical behavior. The paper focuses on the following constructs: Physical activity and active lifestyle vs. sedentary behavior and sedentary lifestyle; Amount of physical activity vs. amount of walking; Detailed body posture and movement data vs. overall physical activity data; Behavioral context of activities; Quantity vs. quality; Physical behavior vs. physiological response. Subsequently, the following outcome parameters provided by data reduction procedures are discussed: Distribution of length of bouts; Variability in bout length; Time window; Intensity and intensity threshold. The overview indicates that physical behavior is a multi-dimensional construct, and it stresses the importance and relevance of constructs and parameters other than total amount of physical activity. It is concluded that the challenge for the future will be to determine which parameters are most relevant, valid and responsive. This is a matter for physical behavior researchers to consider, that is critical to multi-disciplinary collaboration.

Keywords: ambulatory monitoring; measurement; physical activity; physical behavior; validity.