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Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Aug 1;160(3):279-86.

Construct validity of self-reported historical physical activity.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the construct-related validity of self-reported historical walking, running, and jogging (WRJ) activity on the basis of data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (Dallas, Texas). A total of 4,100 men and 963 women underwent at least one medical examination between 1976 and 1985 and completed a follow-up questionnaire in 1986. Levels of glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides, resting systolic blood pressure, body mass index (weight (kg)/height (m)(2)), and cardiorespiratory fitness were measured at the time of the medical examination. The follow-up questionnaire assessed WRJ and other strenuous activities for each year from 1976 through 1985. Data analysis included Spearman and partial correlations, analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, and t tests. Results indicated significant correlations between recalled WRJ and treadmill times for each year throughout the 10-year period (r = 0.40-0.61). Participants were classified as historically either sufficiently physically active to receive a health benefit or insufficiently active for a health benefit. Engaging in sufficient levels of historical WRJ was associated with higher treadmill times and lower body mass indices for men and women and lower triglyceride levels for men. Self-reported historical WRJ can be assessed with reasonable validity in comparison with measured treadmill performance, with no decay in accuracy of reporting for up to 10 years in the past.

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