Skip to main content
Log in

Reliability and validity of self-reported physical activity in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT 2)

  • Physical Activity
  • Published:
European Journal of Epidemiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript



To validate the physical activity (PA) questionnaire in Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT 2).


The questionnaire was administered twice to a random sample of 108 men aged 20–39 and validity by comparing results with VO2max and ActiReg, measuring PA and energy expenditure and with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ).


Spearman correlation coefficients indicated poor and moderate significant agreement by test-retest (light activity, = 0.17, and hard activity, = 0.50). We found a moderate significant correlation = 0.46 (p ≤ 0.01) between hard PA and VO2max and n.s for light activity (= −03). Metabolic equivalent (METs) values 6+ from ActiReg most strongly correlated with hard PA = 0.31 (p ≤ 0.01), though associations of other measures obtained from ActiReg with questionnaire measures were weaker. Occupational activity was strongest correlated for METs 3–6 = 0.48 (p ≤ 0.01) by ActiReg.


The HUNT 2 question for “hard” LTPA has acceptable repeatability and appears to be a reasonably valid measure of vigorous activity, as reflected in moderate correlations with several other measures including VO2max, and with corresponding results from IPAQ and ActiReg. The HUNT 2 question on occupational activity had good repeatability and appears to best reflect time spent in moderate activity, with moderate associations with measured time at intermediate intensity levels. The “light” activity question from HUNT 2 had poor reproducibility and did not correlate well with most of the comparison measures. Thus, the “hard” PA and the occupational activity question should be useful measures of vigorous PA, if time and space allow only very brief assessment. The utility of the “light” PA questions remains to be established.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Blair SN, Kampert JB, Kohl HW III, Barlow CE, Macera CA, Paffenbarger RS Jr. et␣al. (1996) Influences of cardiorespiratory fitness and other precursors on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in men and women. JAMA 276: 205–210

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. SURGEON GENERAL, U.S. Physical activity and health: a report of the surgeon general. Atlanta GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, 1. 1996

  3. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand (1998) The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30: 975–991

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Institute of medicine of the National Academies of Science (eds) Dietary refrence intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002

  5. Blair SN, Lamonte MJ, Nichaman MZ (2004) The evolution of physical activity recommendations: how much is enough? Am J Clin Nutr 79: 913–920

    Google Scholar 

  6. Holmen J, Midthjell K, Krüger Ø, Langhammer A, Holmen T, Bratberg H et␣al. (2003) The Nord-TrØndelag Health Study 1995–97 (HUNT): Objectives, contents, methods and participation. Nor J Epidemiol. 13: 19–32

    Google Scholar 

  7. Craig CL, Marshall AL, Sjostrom M, Bauman AE, Booth ML, Ainsworth BE et␣al. (2003) International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35: 1381–1395

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Mifflin MD, St Jeor ST, Hill LA, Scott BJ, Daugherty SA, Koh YO. (1990) A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals. Am J Clin Nutr 51: 241–247

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Siconolfi SF, Lasater TM, Snow RC, Carleton RA. (1985) Self-reported physical activity compared with maximal oxygen uptake. Am J Epidemiol 122: 101–105

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Singh PN, Fraser GE, Knutsen SF, Lindsted KD, Bennett HW. (2001) Validity of a physical activity questionnaire among African-American Seventh-day Adventists. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33: 468–475

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Tudor-Locke C, Williams JE, Reis JP, Pluto D. (2004) Utility of pedometers for assessing physical activity: construct validity. Sports Med 34: 281–291

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Medbo JI, Mamen A, Welde B, von Heimburg E, Stokke R. (2002) Examination of the Metamax I and II oxygen analysers during exercise studies in the laboratory. Scand J Clin Lab Invest 62: 585–598

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Åstrand P-O, Rodahl K, Dahl H, Strømme SB. Textbook of work physiology: Physiological bases of exercise, 4th edn. New York, 2003

  14. Hustvedt BE, Christophersen A, Johnsen LR, Tomten H, McNeill G, Haggarty P et␣al. (2004) Description and validation of the ActiReg: a novel instrument to measure physical activity and energy expenditure. Br J Nutr 92: 1001–1008

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Landis JR, Koch GG. (1977) The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics 33:159–174

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Fletcher GF, Balady GJ, Amsterdam EA, Chaitman B, Eckel R, Fleg J et␣al. (2001) Exercise standards for testing and training: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation 104: 1694–1740

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Wilmore J, Costill D. Physiology of sports and exercise, 2nd edn. Champaign IL, 1999

  18. Jacobs DRJ, Ainsworth BE, Hartman TJ, Leon AS. (1993) A simultaneous evaluation of 10 commonly used physical activity questionnaires. Med Sci Sports Exerc 25: 81–91

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Evenson KR, McGinn AP. (2005) Test-retest reliability of adult surveillance measures for physical activity and inactivity. Am J Prev Med 28: 470–478

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Coughlin SS. (1990) Recall bias in epidemiologic studies. J Clin Epidemiol 43: 87–91

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Singh PN, Tonstad S, Abbey DE, Fraser GE. (1996) Validity of selected physical activity questions in white Seventh-day Adventists and non-Adventists. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28: 1026–1037

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Ainsworth BE, Leon AS, Richardson MT, Jacobs DR, Paffenbarger RSJ. (1993) Accuracy of the College Alumnus Physical Activity Questionnaire. J Clin Epidemiol 46: 1403–1411

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Knapik J, Zoltick J, Rottner HC, Phillips J, Bielenda C, Jones B, et␣al. (1993) Relationships between self-reported physical activity and physical fitness in active men. Am J Prev Med 9: 203–208

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Kriska A. (2000) Ethnic and cultural issues in assessing physical activity. Res Q Exerc Sport 71(2 Suppl): 47–53

    Google Scholar 

  25. Richardson MT, Ainsworth BE, Jacobs DR, Leon AS. (2001) Validation of the Stanford 7-day recall to assess habitual physical activity. Ann Epidemiol 11: 145–153

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Ainsworth BE, Jacobs DR Jr., Leon AS. (1993) Validity and reliability of self-reported physical activity status: the Lipid Research Clinics questionnaire. Med Sci Sports Exerc 25: 92–98

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Richardson MT, Leon AS, Jacobs DR Jr., Ainsworth BE, Serfass R. (1995) Ability of the Caltrac accelerometer to assess daily physical activity levels. J Cardiopulm Rehabil 15: 107–113

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


The Faculty of medicine, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) supported this study by a Post-doctoral Research Fellowship. The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT Study) was collaboration between HUNT Research Centre, Verdal and Faculty of Medicine, NTNU, The National Institute of Public Health, The National Screening Service of Norway, Oslo and The Nord-Trøndelag County, Council. The VO2max test was completed at the University College of Nord-Trøndelag.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nanna Kurtze.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kurtze, N., Rangul, V., Hustvedt, BE. et al. Reliability and validity of self-reported physical activity in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT 2). Eur J Epidemiol 22, 379–387 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: