Background: It remains unclear what people are attempting to communicate, in terms of objectively monitored behavior, when describing their physical activity and sedentary behavior through self-report. The purpose of this study was to examine various objectively monitored accelerometer variables (e.g., moderate-to-vigorous physical activity [MVPA], steps/day, sedentary time, etc.) across categories of self-reported MVPA (< 150 vs. ≥ 150 minutes/week), usual occupational/domestic activity (UODA; "mostly sitting" vs. "stand, walk, lift, or carry"), and leisure-time sedentary behavior (LTSB; ≥ 3 vs. < 3 hours/day) in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (≥ 20 years).
Methods: This is a secondary analysis of 3,725 participants from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) who provided relevant questionnaire responses and ≥ 1 day of valid accelerometer data. Descriptive statistics were computed for various objectively monitored accelerometer variables across categories of self-reported MVPA, UODA, and LTSB. Pairwise comparisons were conducted to examine differences in objectively monitored behavior between categories of self-reported MVPA, UODA, and LTSB.
Results: On average, adults reporting compliance with physical activity guidelines (≥ 150 minutes/week of MVPA) accumulated more objectively measured physical activity and similar amounts of sedentary time relative to those reporting not achieving guidelines. Adults reporting their daily UODA as "mostly sitting" or accruing ≥ 3 hours/day of LTSB accumulated less objectively monitored physical activity and more sedentary time than those who described their UODA as "stand, walk, lift, or carry" or accrued < 3 hours/day of LTSB. The most active cross-classified category (7,935 steps/day; ≥ 150 minutes/week of self-reported MVPA, "stand, walk, lift, or carry" UODA, and < 3 hours/day of LTSB) accumulated more than twice as many daily steps as the least active cross-classified category (3,532 steps/day; < 150 minutes/week of self-reported MVPA, "mostly sitting" UODA, and ≥ 3 hours/day of LTSB).
Conclusions: A number of objectively monitored physical activity indicators varied significantly between self-reported MVPA, UODA, and LTSB categories, while objectively monitored sedentary time only varied between UODA and LTSB categories. Cross-classifications of self-reported MVPA, UODA, and LTSB responses depict a greater range of physical activity than viewing dichotomous responses for these variables one-at-a-time.