A systematic literature review of reviews on techniques for physical activity measurement in adults: a DEDIPAC study

Kieran Dowd, Robert Szeklicki, Marco Alessandro Minetto, Marie Murphy, Angela Polito, Ezio Ghigo, Hidde van der Ploeg, Janusz Maciaszek, Rafal Stemplewski, Maciej Tomczak, Alan Donnelly

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The links between increased participation in Physical Activity (PA) and improvements in health are well established.As this body of evidence has grown, so too has the search for measures of PA with high levels of methodologicaleffectiveness (i.e. validity, reliability and responsiveness to change). The aim of this “review of reviews” was to provide acomprehensive overview of the methodological effectiveness of currently employed measures of PA, to aid researchersin their selection of an appropriate tool. A total of 63 review articles were included in this review, and the originalarticles cited by these reviews were included in order to extract detailed information on methodological effectiveness.Self-report measures of PA have been most frequently examined for methodological effectiveness, with highly variablefindings identified across a broad range of behaviours. The evidence-base for the methodological effectiveness ofobjective monitors, particularly accelerometers/activity monitors, is increasing, with lower levels of variability observedfor validity and reliability when compared to subjective measures. Unfortunately, responsiveness to change across allmeasures and behaviours remains under-researched, with limited information available.Other criteria beyond methodological effectiveness often influence tool selection, including cost and feasibility.However, researchers must be aware of the methodological effectiveness of any measure selected for use whenexamining PA. Although no “perfect” tool for the examination of PA in adults exists, it is suggested that researchers aimto incorporate appropriate objective measures, specific to the behaviours of interests, when examining PA in free-livingenvironments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-15
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
Early online date8 Feb 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Feb 2018


  • Physical activity
  • Measurement
  • Assessment
  • Accelerometry
  • Questionnaires
  • Self-report
  • Motion sensors
  • Pedometers
  • Heart rate monitors
  • Adults


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