Correlates of reported and recorded time spent in physical activity in working adults: results from the commuting and health in Cambridge study

Jenna Panter, Simon Griffin, David Ogilvie
PloS One 2012, 7 (7): e42202

BACKGROUND: The correlates of physical activity in adults are relatively well studied. However, many studies use self-reported ('reported') measures of activity and we know little about the possible differences between the correlates of reported and objective ('recorded') measures of physical activity. We compared the correlates of reported and recorded time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a sample of working adults.

METHODS: In 2009, participants in the Commuting and Health in Cambridge study completed questionnaires assessing individual, socio-demographic, health and contextual characteristics. Recorded time spent in MVPA over seven days was ascertained using accelerometers and reported time spent in MVPA was assessed using the Recent Physical Activity Questionnaire (RPAQ). Correlates of MVPA were investigated using sex-specific linear regression models.

RESULTS: 486 participants (70% women) provided both reported and recorded physical activity data. 89% recorded at least 30 minutes of MVPA per day. In men, none of the potential explanatory variables were associated with both reported and recorded time spent in MVPA. In women, of all the potential explanatory variables only that of having a standing or manual occupation was associated with both reported (+42 min/day; 95% CI 16.4 to 68.4, p = 0.001) and recorded (+9 min/day; 95% CI: 3.5 to 15.7, p = 0.002) time spent in MVPA.

DISCUSSION: The use of an objective measure of physical activity may influence the correlates which are observed. Researchers may wish to consider using and analysing recorded and reported measures in combination to gain a more complete view of the correlates of physical activity.

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