Physical activity of students of two universities in Surgut according to international questionnaire IPAQ

Physical activity of students of two universities in Surgut according to international questionnaire IPAQ


Dr. Biol, Professor S.I. Loginov
Postgraduate students A.Yu. Nikolaev, A.Yu. Vetoshnikov, S.G. Sagadeeva
Surgut State University, Surgut


Keywords: physical activity, motor activity, International Physical Activity Questionnaire IPAQ, Russian version of the IPAQ, university students


The problem of necessary university environment and facilities to encourage due physical conditioning of university students to help improve their physical fitness and health standards as important assets of future specialists – has always been rated among the top priority objectives of the higher professional education system of the Russian Federation. University is in fact the last organization in a student’s career that offers a formal institutional and management system to control physical activity related behavior of students. It is important to bear in mind in this context that physical activity (PA) is a complex bio-social and structurally inconsistent phenomenon [2] that addresses every element of human muscular activity generally geared to adapt the body to and help survive in the physical environment and society. The production/ economic/ physical culture and sport related/ recreational/ and entertainment elements of the university students’ PA are broadly variable in terms of the PA content and effects on the body and, therefore, need to be thoroughly studied [4, 9].

It is a matter of common recognition that university students must perform moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes 5 times per week and vigorous-intensity physical activity taking at least 25 minutes 3 times a week [5, 1]. General knowledge of how basic recommendations of this kind are actually performed by different population groups is obtainable through the relevant physical activity polls based on formal questionnaires [9]. However, many of the existing questioning forms are inconsistent in terms of the PA types prioritization, data formats etc. [11]. This problem of inconsistency was largely solved when the standard International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was put into effect [10]. The IPAQ design and form gives good means to develop and control performance of target policies to establish health-improvement physical activity standards in different social sectors [6-8]. Based on this knowledge and tools, we designed and conducted a sociological study of the university students’ PA using the Russian version of IPAQ [3].

The purpose of the study was to apply the IPAQ toolkit to explore the actual university PA levels and structure in application to students of the following two Surgut-based universities: Surgut State University (a classic higher education establishment) and the Tyumen State Oil and Gas University Affiliate (a technical higher education establishment), hereinafter referred to as SurGU and TSOGUA.

Materials and methods

Subject to the study were 96 randomly sampled students of Surgut State University (SurGU) of 19.4±1.7 years of age and 98 students of the Tyumen State Oil and Gas University Affiliate (TSOGUA) of 20.4±1.8 years of age, the sample making up 194 people in total.

Every student subject to the survey was requested to fill in the IPAQ form (Russian version). The IPAQ form is designed to collect data on the time and energy claimed by moderate- and vigorous-intensity PA profiled by the following 4 domains: work-related PA; transport-related PA; domestic work/ gardening related PA; and walking/ leisure time PA. In every domain, the respondents were requested to indicate how often (times) they performed PA for the last 7 days and for how long (in hours and minutes). The primary data obtained were processed as recommended by the standard long English version of the IPAQ [10]. The following data were taken for the further analysis after being classified based on the PA intensity domains: 1) Low-intensity walking PA with the relevant Metabolic Equivalent of Task value (MET) (3.3 MET) being calculated; 2) Moderate-intensity PA (MIPA) (3-6 MET) and 3) Vigorous-intensity PA (VIPA) (> 6 MER). Rated with the separate category was the population with mostly sedentary lifestyle reporting being involved in PA for less than 10 minutes per day. This MET-based categorization of PA was followed by calculations of the PA energy demands (scores) as provided by the Compendium of physical activities [4]. Energy scores of PA (EPA) were calculated by taking the time of certain PA per day and multiplying it on the relevant-domain MET value. Total energy score (TEPA) was determined by summarizing the elementary EPA referring to the PA domains and expressed in МЕТ, with 1 MET = 1.0 kcal/ kg/ h or 3.5 ml О2/kg × min (further details please find on The obtained data were processed using the Statistica 10 (StatSoft, USA) software package. We calculated mean arithmetic value; standard deviation; standard error of mean arithmetic value; median value; and upper and lower limits of the 0.95 confidence interval. Differences were qualified reliable conditional on p<0.05 as per Student and/or Wilcoxon.

Study results and discussion

At the onset of the study, 62.37% of the students polled reported no engagement in sport or health-improving physical activity, including 67.71% of the SurGU and 57.14% of the TSOGUA respondents. Some sport activity was reported by 37.63% of the respondents, including 32/29% of the SurGU and 42.86% of the TSOGUA respondents. No hobby was reported by 51.03% of the students polled, including 45.83% of the SurGU and 56.12% of the TSOGUA respondents. The surveyed SurGU population reported being more inclined to passive hobbies, while the TSOGUA respondents reportedly preferred active hobbies. These data is indicative of the SurGU students being 10.5% less engaged in health-improving sport activity. It should be noted in this context that the SurGU population surveyed prefers cyclic sport disciplines like running, walking, skiing (14.58% of the SurGU respondents reported being involved in skiing compared to 5.10% of the TSOGUA population) and gymnastics (8.33% versus 2.04%, respectively); whilst the TSOGUA respondents notably favor sport games: 19.39% versus 3.13% of the SurGU sport gaming community) and fitness (12.24% versus 4.17%, respectively). The working SurGU students report much lower energy spending on physical activity compared to the same group of the TSOGUA respondents, as follows (“CI” means the confidence interval): 1222 MET-min/ week (CI 765; 1681) versus 3238 MET-min/ week (CI 2580; 3895), with p = 0.0001). Furthermore, the TSOGUA respondents report spending more energy on domestic work: 745 MET-min/ week (CI 590; 899) versus 370 MET-min/ week (CI 418; 670), respectively (p = 0.05) (Table 1 hereunder).

Table 1. Categorized PA energy scores as per the IPAQ-RU, МЕТ-min/ week, Х±SE and ±0.95 CI (confidence interval)

PA domains

SurGU sample, n=96

TSOGUA sample, n=98

Total, n=194

Work-related PA

1222±231 (765; 1681)

3238±385 (2580; 3895)*

2240±215 (1818; 2664)

Transportation PA

544±62 (418;670)

604±68 (466;741)

574±47 (482;667)

Domestic work PA

370±43 (282;457)

745±77 (590;899)*

559±47 (467;651)

Leisure time PA

782±71 (638;927)

1067±139 (788;1347)

183±15 (153;213)

Note: given in brackets are the upper and lower limiting values for the 0.95 confidence interval

*reliable difference of SurGU versus TSOGUA data with p <0.05

Energy scores for transportation-related and leisure time physical activity show no significant differences in both of the groups of university students (Table 1). The moderate-intensity PA (3-6 МЕТ) claims 131±12 min/ week from the SurGU students, whilst the TSOGUA respondents report 100 minutes more time for the same PA (231±22 min) (p=0.0011). Vigorous-intensity PA (above 6 МЕТ) was reported to claim slightly more than 1 hour from the students of both of the groups, as follows: 64±7 min reported by SurGU versus 62±14 min by the TSOGUA students.

The SurGU students report spending reliably more (p = 0.0115) time sitting than the TSOGUA students (3014±106 min versus 2648±97 min, respectively), plus the latter report 100 min more walking time (p = 0.0010) (Table 2 hereunder).

Table 2. Physical activity duration data and intensity levels, walking and sitting time, as per the IPAQ-RU data, minutes/ week Х±SE and ±0.95 CI (confidence interval)

PA categories

SurGU sample, n=96

TSOGUA sample, n=98

Total, n=194


208±19 (169;246)

308±23 (260;356)*



131±12 (108;155)

231±22 (188;275)*



64±7 (50;79)

62±14 (34;90)



3014±106 (2799;3229)

2648±97 (2453;2843)*



403±23 (355;451)

602±37 (528;676)

503±30(883; 1127)

Note: MIPA - moderate-intensity physical activity; VIPA - vigorous-intensity physical activity, TPA - total physical activity 

*reliable difference of  SurGU versus TSOGUA data with p <0.05

Total PA of the TSOGUA respondents were found to be 1.5 times higher than that of the SurGU sample (602±37 min/ week versus 403±23 min/ week, respectively, p =0.001). Given on Figure 1 hereunder are the weekly PA energy scores rated by the PA intensity domains.

Figure 1. Weekly PA energy scores rated by the PA intensity domains as per the IPAQ-RU, МЕТ- minutes/ week

*reliable difference of SurGU versus TSOGUA data with p <0.05. Vertical lines refer to confidence interval of 0.95; 1 МЕТ equals 1 kcal/ hour per 1 kg of the body weight, or 3.5 ml О2/kg × min

The above Figure 1 demonstrates that the TSOGUA respondents’ energy scores for low-intensity walking, moderate-intensity PA and total PA are higher than that of the SurGU students, while the energy scores for the vigorous-intensity PA are virtually the same for both of the groups of university students.


The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was designed to compare the country-specific PA studies and put them on a consistent basis [8, 12]. The base English version of the IPAQ was used to develop and successfully apply the German, Island, Korean, Polish, Spanish, Danish, Canadian French, Brazil, Turkish, Vietnamese and some other versions of the IPAQ. We have developed a Russian version of the IPAQ and applied it for the pilot study to obtain a basis for comparison of the PA level and structure in Russia with the other countries statistics on the same methodological grounds [3].

Our studies of the two samples of university students’ PA (one representing a classical university and the other – technical one) have shown that the total students’ PA as indicated by the summarized MET-minutes per day for all five IPAQ domains (i.e. work-related PA, transportation PA, domestic work related PA, leisure time PA and sitting time PA) is estimated as 1447 (1244, 1648 CI) MET-min/ day, including 1580 (1226, 1934 CI) MET-min/ day for men and 1343 (1108, 1579 CI) MET-min/ day for women. These values are notably higher than that for the Swedish population, for instance [13]. A study by M. Hagstromeretal (2010) confirms that PA of the Swedish population comes to 682 (222, 964 CI) МЕТ-min/ day, including 771 (221, 935 CI) МЕТ-min/ day for men and 614 (206, 115 CI) МЕТ-min/ day for women. The vigorous-intensity and moderate-intensity PA of the Russian population is estimated at 33/124 МЕТ-min/ day for men and 19/ 131 МЕТ-min/ day for women, respectively, compared to 23/56 МЕТ-min/ day for the Swedish men and 19/56 МЕТ-min/ day for the Swedish women, respectively. The Swedish peers report spending slightly less time in the sitting PA domain than the Russian (606 min/day versus 651 min/day, respectively) that is anyway much higher than the relevant data for the Ontario-based Canadian population, for instance, with the sitting PA reported at as little as 324 min/ day [8].

On the whole, there are good grounds to conclude that the long version of the IPAQRU we tested hereby is quite applicable for the studies designed to measure PA indicators and energy scores and categorize them by the relevant standard PA domains (i.e. work-related PA, transportation PA, domestic work related PA, leisure time PA and sitting time PA) and the intensity levels (low-, moderate- and vigorous-intensity PA). The studies need to be continued to obtain more PA data using broader-based samples to cover university population of different ages and sex groups.


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