You feel exhilarated that your physical activity level is in par with your expectations as you walk, swim, spend hours in the gym and cycle every day. You even congratulate yourself for being such a great fitness person and living a disciplined lifestyle! A new study focused just on this prediction-how well people gauge themselves on their level of physical activity. Are you as physically fit as you believe yourself to be?
If you don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle, it does not mean that you are physically active. There are many reasons beyond our control that impede our thoughts of staying active. Maybe we fall sick, walking or cycling to our workplace is impossible due to its extravagant distance or we have injured our self, the reasons are countless! Leaving all these apart, we still assume that we are active and fit. A person doing his/her walk, yoga, choosing stairs over elevator and taking a walk every hour at work might feel good that he/she is doing justice to his/her health requirements. Question such a person about physical activity levels and pat comes the reply, ‘I meet moderate activity levels’. A new study on self-assumed activity levels by people suggests that such self-assessment is the result of wishful thinking rather than unbiased evaluation.
The study involved around 1500 people aged above 18 years amongst which 50% were women and they were from three different countries. To check out the accuracy of self-evaluation, the researchers questioned the participants on their activity levels and also measured the activity levels using wrist-worn accelerometers. All of them were requested to rate themselves on the activity scale with 1 contributing as ‘least active’ and 5 denoting them as ‘most active’. They were simultaneously measured on the accelerometer over a 7-day period. Results showed that all participants from the different countries overestimated their activity levels. Older people marked themselves as active as their younger generation, but as a matter of fact, just the opposite of it was true. As people became less physically active, the older they grew.
In general, health and fitness surveys rely on person-dependent information rather than on devices to measure the results. Data would be a lot more accurate if we rely on wearable devices instead. That’s because primarily people can’t exactly remember the activity they performed or its intensity level and secondly, all people don’t have the same understanding of the survey terms. Each one thinks from his/her own perspective and replies, and this can lead to contradictory results in the long term.
There is yet another study that shows that people tend to overestimate the amount of exercise they do by almost an hour a week and underestimate the amount of time they spend sitting by almost two hours a week.
Hopefully you choose a fitness tracker/device as your preferred gift the next time someone gives you an option to choose a gift. This helps you realize your activity level and helps to make future studies a lot more reliable. Gifting options for motivating an individual to be healthier is given at www.firsteatright.com and you can use them to purchase the best gift for your gym buddy for his/her birthday or anniversary.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.