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Health Services Research & Development

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2005 HSR&D National Meeting Abstract

2006 — Measuring Physical Activity for Health Services Researchers

Author List:
Richardson CR (VA HSR&D Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan Medical School Department of Family Medicine)

Workshop Objectives:
Participants will be able to describe the range of methods available for measuring physical activity in ambulatory, community dwelling populations. Both subjective and objective measures will be covered. However, the focus will be on objective measures including simple pedometers, enhanced pedometers, and accelerometers. Participant will know the pros and cons of each method and will be able to choose the appropriate method for their own research.

After a brief didactic introduction presenting definitions of physical activity and an overview of the various measurement methods available, we will have three different activities designed to give researchers experience with three of the methods. 1. Subjective surveys - All participants will be asked to fill out a subjective physical activity questionnaire (the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly). Actually trying to fill out a survey asking about physical activity will help participants understand why self-report surveys are not a very accurate method for measuring physical activity. After participants have completed the questionnaire, we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the scale and other validated questionnaires will be briefly discussed as well. 2. Simple pedometers - All participants will be given a simple pedometer (Digiwalker) to wear. They will be asked to go for a 100-step walk and then check their pedometer for accuracy. We will review issues related to the accuracy of the simple pedometers and simple techniques for increasing accuracy. 3. Enhanced pedometers - Using a laptop with an Internet connection, we will demonstrate the use of an enhanced pedometer (the Sportbrain iStep) by uploading pedometer step-count data in to the Sportbrain web site and immediately viewing a graphical display of step-count feedback. Gold standard methods including accelerometers, doubly labeled water, and direct observation will be discussed in a brief didactic session. We will also discuss references and resources that researchers can use for grant or manuscript preparation with respect to physical activity measurement.

Target Audience:
Health services researchers who need to measure physical activity.

Assumed Audience Familiarity with Topic:

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