Global Physical Activity Surveillance
Physical inactivity is a major independent modifiable risk factor for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, ischaemic stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer. It is also associated with other important health outcomes including mental health, injuries, falls, and obesity.
Surveillance of population levels of physical activity using a standardized protocol is an important and necessary part of a public health response to current concerns regarding lack of physical activity in many populations. Surveillance of physical activity in populations is most often undertaken using questionnaires, as these are relatively inexpensive and easy to administer compared to objective measurement techniques. However, until recently very few countries regularly collected robust data on physical activity to monitor trends over time. This is at least partly due to the lack of consensus on what instrument should be used.
The development of an appropriate, valid and reliable tool to measure physical activity is a challenging task. Several components, such as intensity, duration, and frequency of physical activity need to be taken into account. It is also desirable to assess the domain in which physical activity is performed (e.g. occupational physical activity, transport-related physical activity, and physical activity during discretionary or leisure time).
Given the increased global interest in the role of physical activity to prevent chronic disease, and the lack of data that is useful both to inform within-country public health efforts, and for inter-country comparisons, the WHO developed a Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) for physical activity surveillance. This instrument has mainly been develpoed for use in developing countries. The GPAQ has undergone a research program which shows that it is valid and reliable, but also adaptable to incorporate cultural and other differences.
To access the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire as part of the STEPS Instrument, please click on the link below. The GPAQ is available in English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. It is also available in German upon request.
GPAQ Analysis Guide
Guidelines on how to clean and analyse data derived from the GPAQ are accessible in English and French by clicking on the links below.
Global Physical Activity Questionnaire and Analysis Guide
Global Physical Activity Questionnaire and Analysis Guide_French
GPAQ Analysis Programs
Programs for the analysis of data derived from the GPAQ are available in EpiInfo and SPSS as part of the STEPS Analysis Programs. The GPAQ Analysis Programs are those starting with 'CleanRecode' and those starting with 'P'. Please click on the link below to access the programs. GPAQ Analysis Programs are also available in STATA and SAS upon request.
The Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health
In order to use information derived from the GPAQ as well as other information on population levels of physical activtiy and diet to inform policy and set up interventions, WHO has developed, under a May 2002 mandate from Member States, a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, which was endorsed by the May 2004 World Health Assembly. More information on this Strategy is accessible by clicking on the link below.