Assessment of ability to recall physical activity of several years ago

Ann Epidemiol. 1995 Jul;5(4):292-6. doi: 10.1016/1047-2797(94)00095-b.


In this study we assessed the reliability of recall of physical activity. Study participants were members of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adult Study (CARDIA) cohort who reported physical activity at each CARDIA examination. In this study, we asked 81 participants to recall activity patterns for the year prior to 2 to 3 years ago so that we could compare recalled activity patterns to those reported 2 to 3 years ago (labeled as "distantly recalled") as well as to activity patterns reported at the other CARDIA examinations. We found that distantly recalled physical activity patterns were highly correlated with those reported at the time of the examination where they were obtained (vigorous activity r = 0.84, moderate activity r = 0.64, and total activity r = 0.81). Distantly recalled activity was less highly associated with activity reported currently (vigorous activity r = 0.57, moderate activity r = 0.45, total activity r = 0.59). The activity recalled the best was jogging or running (r = 0.76) and the activity with the poorest recall was racket sports (r = 0.53). Distantly recalled physical activity also was related to resting pulse rate obtained during the time period of the recalled activity (r = -0.21). These findings suggest that people can recall activity patterns of several years ago with high reliability.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Physical Exertion* / physiology
  • Pulse
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors