Research Impact: How do we know that physical activity is good for us? Most of our knowledge about this comes from studies which measure physical activity during daily life. Until recently, most of those research studies used recall-based techniques such as questionnaires to measure physical activity quantity and intensity. When it comes to understanding the fine detail about the health benefits of physical activity behaviour, the findings are only as good as the measurement technique employed. The work reported in this paper used powerful systematic methods to compare findings from nearly 500 individual studies of physical activity measurement method effectiveness in adults. The findings of the paper confirm that device-based measurement (such as accelerometers, pedometers and heart rate measurement) has better validity and reliability than recall-based methods. The paper advises researchers to carefully select measurement tools that best fit their population, and critically that use objective rather than recall-based methods to measure physical activity. The research study reported in this publication was part of the Europe wide “DEDIPAC” knowledge hub, funded in Ireland by the Health Research Board. The research work was led by Dr Kieran Dowd and Professor Alan Donnelly in UL, but included collaborators from Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Northern Ireland.
Dowd, K.P., Szeklicki, R., Minetto, M.A., Murphy, M.H., Polito, A., Ghigo, E., van der Ploeg, H., Ekelund, U., Maciaszek, J., Stemplewski, R., Tomczak, M., and Donnelly, A.E. 2018. A systematic literature review of reviews on techniques for physical activity measurement in adults: a DEDIPAC study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 15(1), p.15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0636-2