Aspects of activity behavior as a determinant of the physical activity level


Corresponding author: Alberto G. Bonomi, Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands. +Tel: 0031 40 2748051, Fax: +0031 43 3670976, E-mail:


This study investigated which aspects of the individuals' activity behavior determine the physical activity level (PAL). Habitual physical activity of 20 Dutch adults (age: 26–60 years, body mass index: 24.5±2.7 kg/m2) was measured using a tri-axial accelerometer. Accelerometer output was used to identify the engagement in different types of daily activities with a classification tree algorithm. Activity behavior was described by the daily duration of sleeping, sedentary behavior (lying, sitting, and standing), walking, running, bicycling, and generic standing activities. Simultaneously, the total energy expenditure (TEE) was measured using doubly labeled water. PAL was calculated as TEE divided by sleeping metabolic rate. PAL was significantly associated (P<0.05) with sedentary time (R=−0.72), and the duration of walking (R=0.49), bicycling (R=0.77), and active standing (R=0.62). A negative association was observed between sedentary time and the duration of active standing (R=−0.87; P<0.001). A multiple-linear regression analysis showed that 75% of the variance in PAL could be predicted by the duration of bicycling (Partial R2=59%; P<0.01), walking (Partial R2=9%; P<0.05) and being sedentary (Partial R2=7%; P<0.05). In conclusion, there is objective evidence that sedentary time and activities related to transportation and commuting, such as walking and bicycling, contribute significantly to the average PAL.