The current state of physical activity assessment tools

Prog Cardiovasc Dis. Jan-Feb 2015;57(4):387-95. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2014.10.005. Epub 2014 Oct 31.


Physical activity (PA) is a behavior that involves bodily movements resulting in energy expenditure. When assessing PA, the goal is to identify the frequency, duration, intensity, and types of behaviors performed during a period of time. Self-report measures of PA include administration of questionnaires and completion of detailed diaries and/or brief logs. Direct measures include motion sensors such as accelerometers, pedometers, heart-rate monitors, and multiple-sensor devices. The PA assessment period can range from a few hours to a lifetime depending on the tools used. Considerations when selecting a PA tool should include the literacy requirements of a tool, the purpose for assessing PA, the recall or time period to measure, the validity evidence of an assessment tool for the populations measured, and the generalizability of the results to diverse populations.

Keywords: Accelerometers; Monitors; Pedometers; Questionnaires.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / methods
  • Diagnostic Equipment
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic* / instrumentation
  • Monitoring, Physiologic* / methods
  • Monitoring, Physiologic* / psychology
  • Motor Activity
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation
  • Physical Fitness* / physiology
  • Physical Fitness* / psychology
  • Self Care
  • Self Report*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires