Weekly academic physical activity rating by gpaq toolkit

PhD, Associate Professor A.V. Kabachkova
Tomsk State University, Tomsk

Keywords: physical activity, physical inactivity, questionnaire survey.

Background. As provided by the World Health Organization (2004), motor (physical) activity is any energy-claiming movement of human skeletal muscles [4, 10]. The term "motor activity" is often interpreted as synonymic to the "motor regimen" that refers to the total individual motor activity for certain time. It is in this broader meaning that motor activity is considered a key factor of influence on health, life quality and expectancy [6, 10]. This definition provides a basis for the individual motor activity rates being tested and analyzed and corrective measures being taken when necessary to facilitate solutions for the health protection and improvement initiatives on an age-specific basis. Practical motor activity tests and analyses, however, are still hampered at this juncture by the inconsistency of the motor activity rating methods [1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 12].

One of the common motor activity rating methods is the specialized questionnaire surveys classified by the rated aspects (motor activity types, times, intensities, schedules/ frequencies etc.), generated data (time, calories, etc.), data analyzing frames (load intensity, industrial/ leisure-time motor activity etc.), and data obtaining methods (formal survey forms in hardcopies or online, interviews) [12]. Such motor activity rating methods have the following benefits: they are readily available, easy for the data mining and processing, secure a reasonable motor activity rating accuracy [3], make it possible to classify motor activity into the low, moderate and high intensity ranges [7]; with the respondents being grouped on an individual or group basis; and the survey data may be dynamic enough [12]. It should be noted that the questionnaires are always subjective and may be limited by the wording of the questioned domains. The questionnaires, however, are not always accurate and dependable enough for the low- and medium-intensity motor activity and the relevant energy cost rating purposes [7].

Objective of the study was to rate the weekly motor activity of the provisionally healthy Tomsk State University students.

Methods and structure of the study. We used a Russian version of the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) to rate the weekly physical activity as recommended [2, 5]. Representative sample for the study included the provisionally healthy 1-3-year male students (n=300, with 100 people of every year) trained at the Tomsk State University Physical Education Department. Additional health data were produced using the Personal Information Questionnaire of our own design. The survey data were analyzed in the absolute and relative values.

Results and discussion. Based on the survey and weekly motor activity rating data, the sample was almost evenly classified into three groups, regardless of the academic year, as follows. About a third of the sample (~ 36%) was tested with a weekly motor activity of 10+ hours in excess of the recommended minimum. Another group with weekly motor activity of 9 hours was dominated by the 1-year students (29% of the sample); whilst the 2- and 3-year student subsamples with the 9-hour motor activity were 3% and 6% higher, respectively. The recommended motor activity rate may be achieved by expansion of the training time or by the intensity building, with the motor activity intensity ratable by the metabolic equivalent (MET). Thus the low-, medium and high-intensity motor activity claim 1.5-3.0 METs, 3.0-6.0 METs and above 6.0 METs, respectively [6].

As provided by the GPAQ questionnaire survey data, every student’s weekly motor activity may be grouped into the low-, medium and/or high-intensity motor activity ranges. Most of the sample (85%) reported moderate-intensity motor activity of 3+ METs per week – mostly secured by the obligatory academic Physical Education service. The Physical Education sessions, however, are managed to keep the heart rate below 80% of the maximum. The high-intensity weekly motor activity rates were reported to widely vary on an irregular basis depending on the actual individual circumstances and many subjective and objective factors.

It is the total (summarized) intensity of the weekly motor activity that may be used as a relatively objective index that ideally should come to 3000-4000 MET-min/ week [9]. We ranked the sample using this index as recommended by the valid recommendations of the World Health Organization (2010) and meta-analysis by H. Kyu (2016) [6, 8]. Given on Figure 1 hereunder are the calculated total intensities of the weekly motor activity based on the survey data.

 Figure 1. Sample grouping by the total weekly motor activity intensity ranges, МЕТ-min/ week

As demonstrated by the above Figure 1, motor activity of 32% (96 out of 300) of the sample varies under 1200 MET-min/ week – exposing them to the health risks associated with physical inactivity. This means that the provisionally healthy students’ may be physically inactive with their motor activity varying under the recommended minimum. Such physically inactive group was found to make about one third of the sample regardless of the academic year and the rated parameters (i.e. motor activity rates in hours and METs).

Conclusion. Due physical activity is commonly considered nowadays the key factor of health protection and improvement agenda which benefits cannot be overestimated – particularly in terms of the students’ adaptability improvement aspects. Efforts to prevent the growing academic physical inactivity need to give a special priority to the motor activity tests, screenings and risk group qualifications. We found the specialized GPAQ surveys being beneficial for these purposes. Their benefits are at least the following: simplicity (only 16 questions); Russian version is easily available; and the method is supported by the comprehensive completion and validity assurance recommendations. We found the weekly physical activity of one of three sampled individuals being under the health minimum, irrespective of the academic year, physical activity schedule and intensity. The GPAQ method was found beneficial for analyses of the academic physical activity.


  1. Lyakh V.I., Rumba O.G., Gorelov A.A. Criteria and methods of human motor activity. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2013. no.10. pp.  99- 104.
  2. Questionnaire manual [Electronic resource] STEPS tool (main and advanced modules). Switzerland: World Health Organization. Electron. print version. Available at: https://clck.ru/GNZDo (date of access: 04.06.2019).
  3. Besson H., Brage S., Jakes R.W., Ekelund U., Wareham N.J. Estimating physical activity energy expenditure, sedentary time, and physical activity intensity by self-report in adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010. 91(1). P. 106-14. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28432
  4. Caspersen C.J., Powell K.E., Christenson G.M. Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Reports. 1985. No.100(2). P. 126-131.
  5. Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ). Analysis Guide. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 2002. 22 p.
  6. Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 2010. 58 p.
  7. Jacobs D.R. Jr., Ainsworth B.E., Hartman T.J., Leon A.S. A simultaneous evaluation of 10 commonly used physical activity questionnaires . Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1993. 25(1). pp. 81–91.
  8. Karvunls Yu.A., Kapilevich L.V. State and prospects of development of active tourism among youth of Tomsk region. Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kultury. 2014. No. 10. pp. 62-65.
  9. Kyu H.H., Bachman V.F., Alexander L.T., Mumford J.E., Afshin A., Estep K. et al. Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke events: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. The British Medical Journal. 2016. 354:i3857. doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i3857
  10. Resolution WHA57.17. Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Resolutions and decisions, annexes. In: Fifty-seventh World Health Assembly. 17-22 May 2004. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2004.
  11. Shephard R.J. Limits to the measurement of habitual physical activity by questionnaires. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2003. 37(3). pp. 197–206.
  12. Sylvia L.G., Bernstein E.E., Hubbard J.L., Keating L., Anderson E.J. Practical guide to measuring physical activity. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014. no..114(2). pp. 199-208. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.09.018

Corresponding author: avkabachkova@gmail.com


As provided by WHO (2004), motor (physical) activity is an energy-intensive movement of human skeletal muscles. The term “motor activity” is often deemed synonymic to “motor regimen” that means the total individual motor activity within a specific timeframe. It is in this broad understanding that motor activity is an important factor affecting human health, quality and life expectancy, and in this meaning it is considered a key factor of influence on health and life quality and expectancy. We used a Russian version of the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) to rate the weekly physical activity. Representative sample for the study included the relatively healthy 1-3-year students (n=300, with 100 people of every year) trained at the Tomsk State University Physical Education Department. Additional health data were produced using the Personal Information Questionnaire of our own design. The survey data were analyzed in the absolute and relative values to find benefits and limitations of the GPAQ survey. We found about one of three sampled individuals’ weekly physical activity under the health minimum, irrespective of the academic year, physical activity schedule and intensity. The GPAQ was found to provide promising tools to analyze the academic physical activity.