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What is already known on this subject?
What does this study add?

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Discrepancies between self-reported and objectively measured physical activity are well-known. For the purpose of validation, this study compares a new self-reported physical activity questionnaire with an existing one and with accelerometer data.

Data and methods

Data collected at one site of the Canadian Health Measures Survey in 2013 were used for this validation study. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was administered to respondents during the household interview, and the new Physical Activity for Adults Questionnaire (PAAQ) was administered during a subsequent visit to a mobile examination centre (MEC). At the MEC, respondents were given an accelerometer to wear for seven days. The analysis pertains to 112 respondents aged 18 to 79 who wore the accelerometer for 10 or more hours on at least four days.


Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) measured by accelerometer had higher correlation with data from the PAAQ (r = 0.44) than with data from the IPAQ (r = 0.20). The differences between accelerometer and PAAQ data were greater based on accelerometer-measured physical activity accumulated in 10-minute bouts (30-minute difference in MVPA) than on all minutes (9-minute difference). The percentages of respondents meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines were 90% based on self-reported IPAQ minutes, 70% based on all accelerometer MVPA minutes, 29% based on accelerometer MVPA minutes accumulated in 10-minute bouts, and 61% based on self-reported PAAQ minutes.


The PAAQ demonstrated reasonable validity against the accelerometer criterion. Based on correlations and absolute differences between daily minutes of MVPA and the percentages of respondents meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, PAAQ results were closer to accelerometer data than were the IPAQ results for the study sample and previous Statistics Canada self-reported questionnaire findings.


Data collection, direct measure, misclassification, motor activity, movement


Physical activity is a key element in health behaviour surveillance programs. In 1994/1995, Statistics Canada adopted the Minnesota Leisure Time Physical Activity Questionnaire (LTPA) in the National Population Health Survey (NPHS). In addition to the nine NPHS cycles (1994/1995 to 2011/2012), this questionnaire was used in the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) from 2001 to 2014 and in the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) from 2007 to 2011. [Full Text]


Didier Garriguet (didier.garriguet@statcan.gc.ca) is with the Health Analysis Division and Sylvain Tremblay (sylvain.tremblay@statcan.gc.ca) is with the Special Surveys Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Rachel C. Colley is an independent researcher.

What is already known on this subject?

  • Physical activity questionnaires are commonly used in health surveys.
  • It is widely recognized that discrepancies exist between self-reported and objectively measured physical activity.
  • This may be attributable to inherent differences between self-reports of time spent doing an activity and actual activity levels measured by devices such as accelerometers.

What does this study adds?

  • This analysis of the validity of a new questionnaire, the Physical Activity Adult Questionnaire (PAAQ), tested its ability to estimate daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity against a direct measure—accelerometry.
  • The results were also compared with validity tests of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ).
  • With a correlation coefficient greater than 0.4, the PAAQ demonstrated reasonable validity against the accelerometer criterion, and a higher correlation than did the IPAQ.
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