Sports Medicine

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 135–149 | Cite as

The ActivityStat Hypothesis

The Concept, the Evidence and the Methodologies
  • Sjaan R. Gomersall
  • Alex V. Rowlands
  • Coralie English
  • Carol Maher
  • Tim S. Olds
Systematic Review

Abstract

Background

The ActivityStat hypothesis suggests that when physical activity is increased or decreased in one domain, there will be a compensatory change in another domain, in order to maintain an overall stable level of physical activity or energy expenditure over time. The ActivityStat debate is gaining momentum in the literature and most of the research to date is based on observational studies.

Objective

The objective of this paper is to conceptually clarify the ActivityStat hypothesis and to examine the experimental research aiming to demonstrate or refute compensation using a systematic review process.

Methods

A systematic review was conducted using electronic database searches with the aim of detecting studies experimentally investigating the ActivityStat hypothesis or compensation in physical activity or energy expenditure. Included studies were critically appraised using a specifically designed tool to address the conceptual considerations of the ActivityStat hypothesis.

Results

Searches identified 28 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Publications spanned 26 years and had multiple methodological approaches, including randomized and non-randomized controlled trials, crossover designs, cluster randomized controlled trials and pre-post trials. Populations of the included studies ranged from children, to adults and the elderly, across a range of weight statuses and used both aerobic, resistance and mixed-exercise interventions. The timeframe of interventions ranged from 1 day to 4 years and outcomes were measured using doubly labelled water, accelerometry, heart rate monitoring, resting metabolic rate, indirect calorimetry, pedometry, subjective recall questionnaire and the activity-related time index. Fifteen of 28 included studies provided evidence of compensation, while 13 did not. Subgroup analyses by population, type and duration of intervention, weight status and study quality also showed mixed findings.

Conclusion

There is a substantial body of experimental literature investigating compensation that has largely been overlooked in the ActivityStat debate. However, this evidence is currently inconclusive and lacks a cohesive approach to the question of an ActivityStat. Recommendations for the design of future experimental research investigating the ActivityStat hypothesis are presented.

Supplementary material

40279_2012_8_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (193 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 193 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sjaan R. Gomersall
    • 1
  • Alex V. Rowlands
    • 1
    • 3
  • Coralie English
    • 2
  • Carol Maher
    • 1
  • Tim S. Olds
    • 1
  1. 1.Health and Use of Time (HUT) Group, Sansom Institute for Health ResearchUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.International Centre for Allied Health Evidence (iCAHE), School of Health SciencesUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Exercise for Health and Human Performance (EHHP) Group, Sansom Institute for Health ResearchUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

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