Physical Activity in the General Population
activity protects against coronary heart diseases. The greatest
benefits seem to occur among subjects who are moderately active
compared to sedentary people, probably because, in today's life
of westernized population, most of the energy is spent in light
and moderate intensity activities such as office work, watching
television, or driving. Therefore, measuring total energy expenditure
may be crucial for understanding the connection of physical activity
to diseases and to frame public health intervention.
total energy expenditure using questionnaire raises important methodological
problems. While heavy intensity leisure activities, such as soccer,
aerobics or running, are usually performed on a regular basis and
associated with a well-known nomenclature, light and moderate activities
tend to vary more and their nomenclature is less standard ( e.g.,
domestic activities, handy work or office work). These activities
belong to a routine and may not be well recalled if not over a recent
be used in the Geneva Bus Santé project, we developed a self-administered physical
activity frequency questionnaire (PAFQ), to measure total
and activity-specific energy expenditure in sub-goups of the population,
with special attention to light and moderate intensity activities.
The methodology was inspired by the similarity between physical
activity and diet from the perspective of behavioral assessment.
The major sources of energy expenditure and their typical duration
were identified using 24-hour recalls of physical activity.
article, which abstract is below, describeds, step by step, the
development of the instrument and its validation relative to a more
objective measure of energy expenditure, a heart rate monitor method.
The project was funded by the Swiss
National Science Foundation. (N°3200-037986.93)
Approach for Developing a Physical
Bernstein M , Sloutskis D , Kumanyika S , Sparti A , Schutz
Y , Morabia A
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1998, Vol 47, N°2,
total energy expenditure may be crucial for understanding
the connection of physical activity to diseases and to frame
public health intervention. To devise a self-administrated,
physical activity frequency questionnaire (PAFQ), the following
data-based approach was used. A 24-hour recall was administered
to a random sample of 919 adults, residents of Geneva, Switzerland.
The data obtained were used to establish the list of activities
(and their median duration) contributing to 95 percent of
the energy expended, separately for men and women. Activities
that were trivial for the whole sample but that contributed
to 10% or more of individual’s energy expenditure, were also
selected. The final PAFQ lists 70 activities or group of activities
with their typical duration. About 20 minutes are required
for respondents to indicate the number of days, and the number
of hours per day, they performed each activity. The PAFQ was
validated against heart rate monitors, a more objective method.
The total energy estimated by the PAFQ in 41 volunteers correlated
well (R= 0.76) with estimates using a heart rate monitor.
The design of a PAFQ based on data from 24-hour recalls appears
to accurately estimate energy expenditure.