Research Study Abstract

Comparison of Three Methods for Measuring the Time Spent in Physical Activity

  • Published on September 2000

Three methods for measuring time spent in daily physical activity (PA) were compared during a 21-d period among 83 adults (38 men and 45 women).

Each day, participants wore a Computer Science and Applications, inc (CSA) monitor and completed a 1-page, 48-item PA log that reflected time spent in household, occupational, transportation, sport, conditioning, and leisure activities. Once a week, participants also completed a telephone survey to identify the number of minutes spent each week in nonoccupational walking and in moderate intensity and hard/very hard-intensity PA. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Spearman rank-order correlations. Three equations developed to compute CSA cut points for moderate and hard/very hard PA were also compared with the PA logs and PA survey.

There was modest to good agreement for the time spent in different PA intensity categories between the thee CSA cut point methods (r = 0.43-0.94, P<0.001) Correlations between the CSA and PA logs ranged from r = 0.22 to r = 0.36, depending on the comparisons. Correlations between the survey items and PA logs were r = 0.26-0.54 (P < 0.01) for moderate and walking activities and r < 0.09 (P > 0.05) for hard/very hard activities. Correlations between the survey items and the CSA min per day varied according to the method used to compute the CSA intensity cut points.

The results were consistent with findings from other PA validation studies that show motion sensors, PA logs, and surveys reflect PA, however, these methods do not always provide similar estimates of the time spent in resting/light, moderate, or hard/very hard PA.

Link to Abstract:


  • Ainsworth, B. E.
  • Bassett, D. R. Jr
  • Strath, S. J.
  • Swartz, A. M.
  • O’Brien, W. L.
  • Thompson, R. W.
  • Jones, D. A.
  • Macera, C. A.
  • Kimsey, C. D.


  • Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise