Validation and Measurement of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Active Travel in Second Level Students using Self-Report and Accelerometry

Niamh Spratt-O'Shea

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    Levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour are increasing among adolescents. Measurement of these behaviours is essential in order to monitor prevalence among this cohort. The aim of this research was (i) to measure and examine the physical activity, sedentary behaviour and active travel profile of second level students, (ii) examine the relationship between objective and subjective physical activity measurement methods and (iii) to identify if students who travel actively have more accurate perceptions of distance travelled to school than those who travel by motorised means. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents IPAQ-A was used to collect self-reported physical activity and active travel behaviour in 13-16 year old adolescents (n=362). Objective physical activity and sedentary behaviour data was gathered in a sub-sample (n=78) using the ActivPAL accelerometer. According to objectively recorded data, 10.2% of adolescents met the recommended daily guidelines for PA with girls more likely to meet the recommendations than boys (15% and 7% respectively, p=0.357). Adolescent's accelerometer-measured sedentary behaviour averaged 9.6 hours per day. Overall, there were weak to moderate correlations between objective and subjective measurement instruments for both total PA and MVPA. Almost one fifth of respondents walked or cycled to school with a higher proportion of boys than girls commuting actively (27.5 v 15.4%, p=.006). Students who travelled to school by car or bus were more accurate in their estimates of the distance travelled to school than those who travelled on foot or bicycle. Low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary behaviour found in the study highlight the need for interventions to change these behaviours among adolescents. There is an opportunity to increase daily physical activity through the promotion of active travel; levels of which were low in the current study. Objective and subjective measurement methods have their own advantages and the use of both methods, where possible may be the ideal way to assess physical activity and sedentary behaviours.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Lane, Aoife, Supervisor
    • Murphy, Niamh, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2014


    • Physical activity, sedentary behaviour


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