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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Jul;40(7 Suppl):S544-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817c6651.

How many days was that? We're still not sure, but we're asking the question better!

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Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Unreliable measures limit the ability to detect relationships with other variables. Day-to-day variability in measurement is a source of unreliability. Studies vary substantially in numbers of days needed to reliably assess physical activity. The required numbers of days has probably been underestimated due to violations of the assumption of compound symmetry in using the intraclass correlation. Collecting many days of data become unfeasible in real-world situations. The current dilemma could be solved by adopting distribution correction techniques from nutrition or gaining more information on the measurement model with generalizability studies. This would partition the variance into sources of error that could be minimized. More precise estimates of numbers of days to reliably assess physical activity will likely vary by purpose of the study, type of instrument, and characteristics of the sample. This work remains to be done.

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