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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Oct;24(10):1167-72.

Variability of some objective measures of physical activity.

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Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana.


The purpose of this study was to determine how many days subjects should be monitored to provide an estimate of habitual physical activity in employed men engaged in a wide range of occupations. Caloric intake, movement recorders (accelerometers and pedometers), and heart rate were the measurements studied in 30 subjects who were monitored during their waking hours for 7 continuous days. A repeated measures ANOVA showed no significant difference between days (P > 0.05) for any of the measures when only weekdays were compared. However, when weekend days were included a majority of the measures showed a significant F-ratio (P < 0.05). An estimate was made of the number of days required to measure a 7-d period with less than 5% error. The average for all the different measures was 4.9 d. It appears that at least 5 or 6 d are needed to minimize the intra-individual variance a reasonable degree. Weekdays as well as weekend days need to be included.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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