PCS1, PMBC, PCS3
The College Alumni Health Study Questionnaire is not a copyrighted measure. However, those wishing to publish data derived from the scale are asked to cite Lee & Paffenbarger (2009; see below).
1. Paffenbarger, R. S., Wing, A. I., Hyde, R. T. (1978). Physical activity as an index of heart attack risk in college alumni. American Journal of Epidemiology, 108, 161-175.
To assess usual levels of daily physical activity and frequency and duration of engagement in recreational sports and other leisure activities.
Type of Measure
Modified. The original published scale included 7 items pertaining to performed physical activities and 1 item reflecting participants’ own assessments of whether they get enough exercise to stay healthy. The version of the scale administered in PCS1 included the 7 performed physical activity items only. The brief scale administered in PMBC and PCS3 included of 4 of the 7 physical activity items.
The scale is comprised of several open- and closed-ended response items that ask participants to estimate their usual levels of daily physical activity; the frequency with which they engage in vigorous physical exercise; the level of exertion they typically put into exercising (PCS1 only); and the number of hours per day they usually spend engaged in activities requiring varying levels of effort (PCS1 only). Participants also list any sports and recreational activities in which they engage and how frequently they engage in them. In PCS1, the reference period for the sports and recreation item was the past year (consistent with Paffenbarger’s original scale); in PMBC and PCS3, the past week.
Number of Items
7 (PCS1); 4 (PMBC, PCS3)
Reliability: The original published scale has been shown to have good test-retest reliability over periods as diverse as 4 weeks (Cauley et al., 1987) and 1 year (LaPorte et al, 1983).
ScoringThe scale can be scored in several ways. A common method involves computing a physical activity index (PAI) representing the total amount of energy expended (in kilocalories, kcal) per week (Paffenbarger et al., 1986). Paffenbarger and colleagues assigned fixed values of 56 kcal for walking 7 city blocks per week and 28 kcal for climbing 7 flights of stairs per week. Sports and other activities were coded into three broad categories—light, vigorous, and mixed, and based on this categorization assigned energy expenditure rates of 5 kcal/min, 10 kcal/min, or 7.5 kcal/min, respectively. Using these values, the total energy expended per week associated with a given activity can be computed as follows:
Total energy expenditure = (kcal/min) x (times per week engaged in activity) x (minutes per episode).
Accordingly, an individual’s PAI can be computed by summing the following values:
Other scoring methods involve coding physical activities based on their metabolic equivalent (MET) intensity levels (Lee et al., 2003). One MET is used to represent the amount of energy expended by the average person while at rest, and is equivalent to 1 kilocalorie per kilogram of body weight expended per hour (i.e., 1 [kcal]/([kg*hour]). MET values associated various physical activities can be obtained by consulting the most recent update of the Compendium of Physical Activities (Ainsworth et al., 2011).
Ainsworth, B. E., Haskell, W. L., Herrmann, S. D., Meckes, N., Bassett, D. R., Tudor-Locke, C., ... & Leon, A. S. (2011). 2011 compendium of physical activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(8), 1575-1581.
Not a copyrighted scale
Washburn, R. A., Goldfield, S. R. W., Smith, K. W., & McKinlay, J. B. (1990). The validity of self-reported exercise-induced sweating as a measure of physical activity. American Journal of Epidemiology, 132, 107-113.
To evaluate participants’ degree of physical activity.
Participants answer a series of questions related to physical activity.
Number of Items