Accuracy of the college alumnus physical activity questionnaire

Barbara E. Ainsworth, Arthur S. Leon, Mark T. Richardson, David R. Jacobs, R. S. Paffenbarger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


The validity and reproducibility of the Physical Activity Index from the College Alumnus Questionnaire (PAI-CAQ) were determined in 78 men and women (21-59 yr) with a broad range of physical activity habits. The PAI-CAQ was computed as the sum of energy expended in stair climbing, walking, and sports and recreational physical activity recalled from the past week. Data were validated against measures of cardiorespiratory fitness, body fatness, motion detection, and physical activity records. All physical activity was recorded by participants for six 48-hour periods. Each day of the week, including weekends, were represented at least twice in the physical activity records. Age-adjusted correlation coefficients between like activities on the College Alumnus Questionnaire and physical activity records ranged from 0.25 to 0.65 in men and 0.28 to 0.86 in women. Correlations between the PAI-CAQ and validation criteria that reflected total and heavy-intensity physical activities were higher (r = 0.34-0.69, p < 0.05) than for lighter-intensity physical activities and motion detection expressed in MET-min·d-1 and kcal·d-1 (r < 0.35, p > 0.05). Test-retest reproducibility was higher over 1 month (r = 0.72) than over 8 and 9 months (r = 0.34 and 0.43) (p < 0.05). Energy expended in walking and stair climbing was underestimated on the College Alumnus Questionnaire, resulting in lower PAI-CAQ scores, as compared to the physical activity records.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1403-1411
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1993


  • Exercise
  • Exertion
  • Leisure activities
  • Reproducibility
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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