Background: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC)/Baecke Questionnaire is a general survey of both occupational and leisure (sport and exercise related and non-sport and exercise related) physical activity.
Methods: Its ability to assess leisure physical activity was studied in 78 men and women, age 20-59 years, by comparison to: six 48-hour physical activity records; 14 48-hour Caltrac accelerometer readings (Caltrac); three peak oxygen consumption (VO2 peak) determinations; and per cent body fat. These criteria measures were obtained over a year's duration.
Results: The following associations were evident in men and women respectively, between sport and exercise physical activity and: physical activity record heavy intensity activity (r = 0.73 and r = 0.63); VO2 peak (r = 0.67 and r = 0.45); and per cent body fat (r = -0.37, P = 0.08 and r = -0.44). Less concordance was evident (r = 0.39 for men and r = 0.23, NS, for women) between non-sport and exercise physical activity and physical activity record light intensity activity. Questionnaire and physical activity record indices of total leisure activity tended to be more closely related in men (r = 0.59) than women (r = 0.33). For both men and women, survey results were not closely associated with Caltrac readings.
Conclusions: Although there are weaknesses, questionnaire strengths consistent for both men and women include: ease of administration, high reliability, and accurate assessment of heavy intensity activity as well as light intensity activities such as walking and bicycling.