Measuring Physical Activity in Midlife Women

Authors

  • JoEllen Wilbur R.N., C, Ph.D,

    Corresponding author
    1. JoEllen Wilbur is Assistant Professor and Arlene Miller is Lecturer in the Department of Public Health Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. Alice Dan is Professor and Karyn Holm is Professor in the Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago.
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  • Arlene Miller R.N., C, Ph.D.,

    1. JoEllen Wilbur is Assistant Professor and Arlene Miller is Lecturer in the Department of Public Health Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. Alice Dan is Professor and Karyn Holm is Professor in the Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Alice J. Dan Ph.D.,

    1. JoEllen Wilbur is Assistant Professor and Arlene Miller is Lecturer in the Department of Public Health Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. Alice Dan is Professor and Karyn Holm is Professor in the Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Karyn Holm R.N., Ph.D.

    1. JoEllen Wilbur is Assistant Professor and Arlene Miller is Lecturer in the Department of Public Health Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. Alice Dan is Professor and Karyn Holm is Professor in the Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Supported in part by grant BRSG #2 507RR05776-O6 from the Division of Nursing, NIH award, and a University of Illinois Chicago Campus Research Board grant.

Address correspondence to JoEllen Wilbur, Department of Public Health Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, 845 South Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612.

Abstract

Women's risks for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are increasing. Although it is known that these risks decline with physical activity, it is difficult to associate specific risk levels with specific activity levels. Measuring activity levels is complex and problematic, especially in women. The present study explored the validity of a particular measure, the retrospective survey questionnaire, used with a female population to gauge physical activity, both occupational and leisure. To measure construct validity, four retrospective measures were administered to a sample of 43 middle-aged women representing three occupational groups (teachers, clerical workers, nurses) known to differ in activity levels. In addition, measurement approaches were triangulated by including a prospective measure, a beeper-cued record kept by subjects. A significant difference was noted among the groups on retrospective and prospective occupational activity measures, with clerical workers having the lowest levels of energy expenditure. The retrospective occupational measure correlated positively and significantly with the beeper-cued record kept during work; however, no correlation was found between the retrospective leisure measure and the beeper-cued record. These data suggest that the retrospective measure is appropriate for measuring the occupational dimension of physical activity. Additional study is required to identify women's leisure pursuits and the dimension of their household activities.

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