Variability of Some Objective Measures of Physical Activity

Document Type


Publication Date



American College of Sports Medicine

Source Publication

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Source ISSN



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.


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Vol. 24, No. 10 (October 1992): 1167-1172. DOI.

Randall J. Gretebeck was affiliated with University of Illinois at Urbana at the time of publication.