Measuring Physical Activity in Youth Settings: Considerations for Instrument Selection


  • Benjamin D. Hickerson The Pennsylvania State University



Increasing physical activity participation has become one of the primary strategies for prevention of early-onset health conditions including obesity and Type II diabetes. Youth programs including summer camps and after-school programs are premium providers of physical activity opportunities, but researchers and administrators of these programs must be able to effectively collect and interpret physical activity data to make program adjustments and communicate results. This article reviews existing methods for physical activity measurement including self-reports and objective instruments and makes suggestions for their applicability. Pedometers are covered in-depth as they may be the method of choice in many youth settings. These devices are unobtrusive, have a relatively low cost, and provide excellent data quality. Proper physical activity measurement in youth settings can provide information about effective intervention strategies and may also encourage on-site participants to increase their physical activity frequency.






Research & Evaluation Studies