Revista Electrónica de Investigación Educativa

Vol. 12, No. 2, 2010

Validity of Pieron’s Questionnaire on Physical/Sports Habits and Behaviors in Young People from Northern Mexico

Validez del cuestionario de hábitos y conductas físico deportivas de Pierón en jóvenes del norte de México

Arnulfo Ramos-Jiménez (1)

Abraham Wall-Medrano (1)

Oscar A. Esparza-Del Villar (1)

Rosa P. Hernández-Torres (2)

(1) Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas,
Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez

Av. Hermanos Escobar y Plutarco Elías Calles s/n.
Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México

(2) Facultad de Educación Física y Ciencias del Deporte
Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua.

(Received February 23, 2010; accepted for publication August 31, 2010)


Several self-report questionnaires have been used to evaluate various determiners of sports practice in young people, but very few have been applied to Mexicans. In this analysis, the questionnaire was administered to 222 subjects (13-25 years). We determined its internal consistency (Cronbach α), content validity (document analysis), construct (Exploratory Factor Analysis, EFA) as well as that of the criterion. The latter, by its correlation (Spearman) with anthropometric variables: body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) and physiological (VO2max). The results showed that the internal consistency is acceptable (Cronbach’s α=0.68 to 0.85). Moreover, this questionnaire similarly responds to queries posed in surveys already reported (to find out the physical, educational, psychological and socio-demographic characteristics of physical/sports practice). The EFA showed 1, 2 and 3 factor structures with adequate Cronbach’s α (~0.70) and Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (~0.72) values. The practice of physical activity was associated with a lower BMI and higher VO2max. The questionnaire proved to be a valid instrument for investigating physical/sports habits and behavior in young people from northern Mexico.

Key words: Health, sport, youth, physical activity.


Varios cuestionarios de auto-reporte han sido utilizados para evaluar distintos determinantes de la práctica deportiva en jóvenes, pero muy pocos han sido aplicados a mexicanos. En el presente análisis se aplicó el cuestionario a 222 sujetos (13-25 años). Se determinó su consistencia interna (α de Cronbach), validez de contenido (análisis documental), de constructo (Análisis Factorial Exploratorio, AFE), así como la de  criterio.  Esta última, por su correlación (Spearman) con variables antropométricas: Índice de Masa Corporal (IMC) y Circunferencia de Cintura (CC), y fisiológicas (VO2max). El resultado obtenido fue que la consistencia interna es aceptable (α Cronbach=0.68-0.85). Este cuestionario responde de manera semejante a interrogantes planteadas en cuestionarios ya reportados (conocer las razones físicas, educativas, psicológicas y socio-demográficas de la práctica físico-deportiva). El AFE mostró una estructura de 1-3 factores con adecuados valores de α Cronbach ~0.70 y de Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) ~0.72. La práctica de la actividad física se asoció a un menor IMC y mayor VO2max. El cuestionario demostró ser un instrumento válido para investigar hábitos y conductas físico-deportivas en jóvenes del norte de México.   

Palabras clave: Salud, deporte, jóvenes, actividades físicas.

I. Introduction

The economic cost of physical inactivity to the health sector in Mexico is not known; however in the United States it is between 24 and 76 billion dollars, which means between 2.4 and 5.0% of the annual government expenditure on health (Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, 2007; Colditz, 1999; Pratt, Macera & Wang, 2000). However, effective interventions in physical activity save the public $14,000 and $69,000 a year, and improve people’s quality of life (Roux, Pratt, Tengs, Yore, Yanagawa, Van Den Bos, 2008). On the other hand, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO, 2007) recognizes that chronic noncommunicable diseases, including ischemic cardiopathy, stroke and diabetes, are currently the leading causes of premature death and morbidity in Latin America, and are mostly brought on by unhealthy lifestyles, including physical inactivity (Ricciardi, 2005). Therefore, any effort to understand the determinants associated with the practice of physical activity is invaluable.

A traditional way to study the habits of physical activity and its determinants, is by applying self-report questionnaires (Coble, Rhodes and Higgins, 2009, Evenson & McGinn, 2005; Frömel, Mitas & Kerr, 2009; Harada, Chiu King & Stewart, 2001; Hernandez, Gortmaker, Laird, Colditz, Parra-Cabrera and Peterson, 2000; Nuviala, Juan Garcia-Montes, 2003; Seclen-Palacin & Jacoby, 2003). In fact, several studies that have applied this type of instrument report that a sedentary lifestyle is fostered by work, school (Zhang & Middlestadt, 2007), socioeconomic status (Weiss, O'Loughlin, Platt & Paradis, 2007); the indiscriminate use of television, computer and the Internet (Kuriyan, Bhamt, Thomas, & Kurpad Vaz, 2007; Tammelin, Ekelund, & Näyhä Remes, 2007); an unpropitious physical environment (Evenson & McGinn, 2005; Merchant, Dehghan, Behnke-Cook & Anand, 2007) and other factors such as age, sex, overweight and the presence of disease (Weiss et al, 2007; Bernstein, Morabia & Sloutskisl, 1999). In particular, the questionnaire on physical/sports habits and behaviors studied here (Castro, Pieron & Gonzalez, 2006; Pieron, Ledent, Almond, Airstone & Newberry, 1996; Pieron, Ruiz, Garcia & Diaz, 2008; Telama, Naul, Nupponen, Rychtecky & Vuolle, 2002) is an instrument developed in Europe by a group of experts in the field of physical activity. It is aimed toward determining, among other things, the population’s degree of participation, as well as the habits and behaviors related to this practice (ways of life, free time, and psychological and social determinants of sports). The psychometric characteristics of this instrument investigate precisely the dimensions associated with the practice of sports. What is interesting about this survey is that it investigates not only the possible reasons why, in their free time, young people do or do not practice sports activities, and their level of participation in these; but also explores how participation in such activities is associated with body image and self-image as related to sports —that is, how young people perceive exercise, and how they see themselves in the practice of it.

Telama and Pieron have previously applied and validated this questionnaire in a European population (Pieron, Ruiz, Garcia & Diaz, 2008; Telama, Naul, Nupponen, Rychtecky & Vuollel, 2002). However, its validation in a Mexican population has not yet been completed. In a preliminary study, Ramos-Jimenez, Hernandez-Torres, Rivera-Sosa and Wall-Medrano (2008) analyzed the validity of the content and construct of this questionnaire in 50 physically-active college students. They found a good internal consistency among its items (Cronbach’s α>0.76). Furthermore, the practice of physical activity was associated with higher self-esteem; and a decrease in those activities, with sports injuries and lack of time. Concerning all the above, there is reported here a more comprehensive study of the validity of this questionnaire, covering a larger population sample, which includes both adolescents and young adults in northern Mexico.

II. Material and methods

Subjects. Participating in the study were 222 students in northern Mexico: 147 adolescents in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua (88 boys and 59 girls, mean age 14 ±1 years), high school students; and 75 young adults from Chihuahua, Chihuahua (52 men and 23 women, average age 23 ±2 years), students in the BA in Physical Education. Inclusion criteria were: being registered as a student, and being physically active. The sample was selected at random, so as to include 30% of the students of both sexes.

Instrument. The questionnaire applied on the physical/sports habits and behaviors ( consists of 87 test questions distributed over 23 sections: a multiple-choice question, one with two options, one with a single option, 80 using a Likert scale of 3 to 5 levels, and 4 open questions. Sixty-six of the 80 Likert items are grouped into 5 sections, which address various topics, each containing a different number of test questions (from 6 to 22 items).

Procedure. All subjects participated voluntarily in the study, after a general invitation issued by researchers at the participating schools. The protocol was reviewed by the Ethics Committee of the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, following the lines set out in the Helsinki Declaration of 1975. Prior to the application of the questionnaire, the content of the items was evaluated by two experts in the area. These experts agreed that 100% of the items were suitable for the study population. The questionnaire was administered by previously-trained interviewers. The document was hand-delivered to each student when these were inside their classrooms, and during a break between their academic activities. The teacher was not present during the application of the questionnaire. No time limit was set for its completion, for which reason the time range was from 15 to 30 minutes.

III. Validation

Content validation. This was performed by means of comparative analysis (qualitative) of the questionnaire, comparing it with others already reported in the literature (Coble, Rhodes & Higgins, 2009, Evenson & McGinn, 2005; Frömel, Mitas & Kerr, 2009; Harada, Chiu, King & Stewart, 2001, Hernandez et al., 2000; Nuviala, Juan & Garcia-Montes, 2003; Seclen-Palacin & Jacoby, 2003). Analyzed in these baseline questionnaires, as well as validation, are their means of production, of application and possible physical, psychological and socio-economic characteristics which influence  the practice of physical activity. This analysis was performed by two of the authors independently (double blind); a third reviewer joined this analysis, defining the dimensions, similarities and differences compared with those of other published and validated instruments. The degree of agreement between questionnaire assessors Pieron versus others reported in the literature, was high; we detected in it, minimal differences in criteria and dimensions.

Internal consistency. This was carried out by determining Cronbach’s α coefficient, both for the sections of the questionnaire having 6 to 22 test questions (sections 1.2, 12, 16, 17 and 18), and for the factors obtained by exploratory factor analysis (EFA).

Construct validity. This was examined by the EFA, above, to explore the underlying structure of sections 1.2, 12, 16, 17 and 18, since these were sections made up of multiple-choice questions, and in which it was possible to carry out this type of analysis (≥ 3 test questions). The theme and response format of each of these sections is different; therefore the EFA was done for each section independently. The EFA was performed using the principal components method with Varimax-type rotation, following the Kaiser-Guttman criterion (Kaiser, 1958), from which there are taken (eigenvalues) of ≥1.0, and the analysis of the abrupt fall of the eigenvalues in the corresponding sedimentation graph (Scree Test) of Cattell (Cattell, 1996) as rules of decision. Additionally, to ensure adequate representation of the variables (items or test questions) we retained only those whose commonality, or proportion of variance explained by the factorial solution, was more than 0.45. Furthermore, to assess the adequacy of the sampling and the possible sphericity of the data obtained, these tests were applied:  Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) (Kaiser, 1970); and Bartlett (Zwick & Velicer, 1986). Finally, the method used to extract the factors was that of eigenvalues with an orthogonal rotation (Varimax) (Costello & Osborne, 2005).

Validation of criterion. For technical reasons there were included in this study, only students from Ciudad Juarez; these were measured for weight (SECA digital scale 876, SECA Corp: Hanover, MD); height (SECA wall stadiometer 206, Seca Corp: Hanover, MD); and a minimum waist circumference (metal tape measure, Rosscraft, Canada). Also calculated was the BMI (kg•m-2) and the maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). The calculation of the VO2max was performed through the quarter-mile test walk (Greenhalgh, George & Hager, 2001). Travel time during the quarter-mile test, and heart rate of subjects at the end of the test, were measured with a heart rate monitor (Polar F6M, Finland).

Concurrent validity (Inter-method) among the items of the questionnaire questions related to the degree or intensity of participation in physical/sports activities (sections 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9), and of the perception of the state of health and physical fitness (1.2, 11, 12, 16, 18, 21 and 22), was established by its relationship with anthropometric variables and the VO2max of the group of adolescents mentioned in the section on experimental design and the application of Spearman correlation analysis. To describe the subjects regarding the degree of physical activity they report, the scores of the items in sections 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9 of the questionnaire were added up and averaged, using the number of test questions, thereby obtaining an index of physical activity (ranging from 1 to 5), where 1 indicates very mild; 2, mild; 3, moderate; 4, high; and 5, very high participation in physical activity. This indicator has been called the Finnish Index of Physical Activity (FIPHA), (Pieron, Ruiz, Garcia & Diaz, 2008). Data were analyzed with the SPSS program, version 15.0.

IV. Results

Since the questionnaire is very long (88 test questions), the descriptive statistics are presented in the document Paginas/PsicologíadelaSalud.aspx

Content validity. According to the qualitative analysis performed on this questionnaire as compared with other similar instruments reported in the literature, it is observed that the Pieron questionnaire comprehensively covers various aspects related to the practice of physical/sports activities, i.e., it is designed to reveal information about these aspects of subjects:

  1. Educational and cultural factors related to the use of free time (Sections 1 and 15).
  2. Specific characteristics of the sport practiced: intensity, frequency, type of sport (Sections 2-6, 8-10) and some possible reasons for its practice (Section 18-21).
  3. Physical, emotional and socio-economic environment associated with the sport (Sections 7, 8, 18).
  4. State of health (Section 11).
  5. Personal tastes, self-image and self-esteem associated with the sport (Sections 12, 13, 14, 16, 17).
  6. Gender and age (sections 22 and 23).
  7. Interrelationships between all of the above.

Internal consistency. As seen in Table I, the internal consistency (Cronbach’s α) of the questionnaire is presented within the appropriate range of values (70-90).

Table I. Maurice Pieron’s questionnaire: internal consistency

Validity of the construct. The EFA was performed for each of the 5 questionnaire sections presenting from 6 to 22 questions each (Sections 1.2, 12, 16, 17 and 18), in a Likert scale (the entire results of the EFA are presented in the questionnaire shown above). Of these five sections there were retained the minimum number of factors suggested by the sedimentation graphs (Figure 1), since this structure organized the test questions in the best possible way. According to the KMO values (≥0.72) and those of Bartlett (<0.001), the correlations between the variables and the factor models provided by the analysis were appropriate. According to Figure 1, in Section 1.2 (relating to educational and cultural aspects of the manner of organizing free time), and Section 16 (which assesses self-esteem during the practice of sports), there were retained 3 and 2 factors respectively with KMO≥0.72 and Cronbach’s α≥0.68. Sections 12 (physical self-esteem), 17 (social self-esteem) and 18 (reasons for participation in sports), we retained only one factor with KMO​​≥0.81 and with Cronbach’s α≥0.70.

Figure 1. Sedimentation graph (Cattell Scree Test) of factor analysis

Eigenvalores=EigenvaluesSección=SectionNúmero de factor=Factor number


Validity of criterion. The physical characteristics of the adolescents (n=147) were: BMI 22.2±4.3kg•m-2; WC, 70.5±11.1 cm; VO2max 42.4±8.0ml•kg-1•min-1. There were no significant associations between the anthropometric measurements and the VO2max with the test questions that mentioned the degree or intensity of participation in physical/sports activities (Sections 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9). The associations between anthropometric values, VO2max and test responses to Questions 11, 12 and 16 of the questionnaire are shown in Table II. Subjects who in the questionnaire are described as being in a better state of health, better physical shape, and had better self-esteem when engaged in sports, showed higher VO2max values (r~0.22), but lower values of BMI(r~0.27, p<0.01) and of WC(r=0.25, P<0.01).

Table II. Matrix of correlation between test questions related to physical activity and anthropometric and physiological variables

Description of the degree of physical activity
As shown in Figure 2, the Finnish Index of Physical Activity (FIPHA) identified that on the whole, high school students are more physically active than college students. Instead, college students versus high school students practice more exercise of high intensity. In addition it was found that, overall, women participate more in physical activities of mild to moderate intensity, while men are more involved in activities of moderate to high intensity.

Figure 2. Intensity of physical activity reported by subjects in Sections 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9 of the questionnaire, according to the FIPHA

Mujeres=Women Hombres=Men Nula=None Muy leve=Very light
Leve=Light Moderada=Moderate Alta=High Muy alta=Very high


V. Discussion

In principle, Pieron’s questionnaire is not intended to describe qualitatively or quantitatively a person’s physical activity, but is an exploratory document on the person’s perception of physical exercise, including sports. The fact that people do or do not participate in physical activity depends on many things; therefore, when we study their physical/sports habits, and the reasons why they engage in physical exercise, we should evaluate both objective and subjective variables (Rennie & Wareham, 1998).

In this sense, the literature points out that these questionnaires should include among their test questions, themes that consider various aspects, including: physical and socioeconomic environment; state of health; gender; age; personal tastes; self-esteem; educational and cultural aspects; as well as the characteristics of the sport; the type of sport, its intensity, frequency and duration (Coble, Rhodes & Higgins, 2009, Evenson & McGinn, 2005; Hernandez, Gortmaker, Colditz, Peterson, Laird & Parra-Cabrera, 1999, Hernandez, Gortmaker, Laird, Colditz, Parra-Cabrera & Peterson, 2000; Hernandez, of Haene, Barquera, Monterrubio, Rivera et al 2003, Hernandez, Fernandez-Collado & Baptista, 2006; Nuviala, Juan Garcia-Montes, 2003; Pedraz, 2007; Seclen-Palacin & Jacoby, 2003). For example, Seclen-Palacin and Jacoby (2003) found that regular involvement in sports activities in Peruvian adolescents and young people is associated with a lower age, higher socioeconomic status, having a job, having more education, watching sports-TV programs or reading about sports, where gender is an important covariant. In addition to the things mentioned, when assessing the validity of content, the hypothesis set out by the questionnaires must be clearly represented in its test questions (Hernandez, Fernandez-Collado & Baptista, 2006).

Like Pieron’s test, most of the questionnaires found in the literature, and which study physical and sports habits, suggest that the participation of people in sports and recreational activities depends on personal factors (physical, cognitive, emotional, economic and cultural, etc.) as well as environmental issues (social environment, climate, availability of parks and sports, among other things) (Coble, Rhodes & Higgins, 2009, Evenson & McGinn, 2005; Frömel, Mitas & Kerr, 2009; Hernandez, Gortmaker, Colditz, Peterson, & Parra-Cabrera Laird, 1999; Hernandez, Gortmaker, Laird, Colditz, Parra-Cabrera & Peterson, 2000; Hernandez, of Haene, Barquera, Monterrubio, Rivera et al, 2003; Hernandez, Fernandez-Collado & Baptista , 2006; Nuviala, Juan Garcia-Montes, 2003; Seclen-Palacin, Vilhjalmsson & Thorlindsson, 1998). Thus, we conclude that a good questionnaire should answer the following questions: “Why do they
engage in sports or physical recreational activity, or why do they not do so?” and “What are the physical, psychological, emotional, social and cultural factors related to physical activity or a sedentary lifestyle?” In this sense, the sections of the Pieron’s questionnaire have the following objectives: 1) to find out how people use their free time; 2) to identify the sports and recreational activities in which they participate, the place where they participate and the degree of participation; and 3) to find out the associations between the practice of physical activity, health, self-esteem, pleasure, personal skills, communication, and influence of family and friends. Given this, the present questionnaire has validity of content, and may be a option for epidemiological studies seeking determinants of health, as well as for designing really effective community involvement.

The AFE by reduction of principal components is one of the most common methods used to analyze the validity of the construct (Lugo, Bacallao & Rodriguez, 2000; Unikel & Gomez-Peresmitré, 2004). Although the AFE is a technique widely criticized in comparison with others, such as analysis by blocks (clusters) or multidimensional scaling, this technique recognizes and prioritizes the importance of inter-item correlations in a correlation matrix, while other methods do not. In our study, the aim of carrying out the AFE was to corroborate the existence of factors that represent and group together similar characteristics among the test questions; as well as evaluate a socio-psychological phenomenon itself associated with the practice of physical activities and sports. Since the KMO test and Cronbach’s α showed values of ≥0.70, we can be assured that this questionnaire has an adequate sample and internal consistency acceptable for populations such as the one here analyzed. In addition, each section retained 50-60% of the original questions, grouping them into ≤3 factors by section analyzed. This allows us to propose, a priori, a shortened version of this questionnaire with similar analytical and exploratory power for the Mexican population of these age groups. However, it should be noted that this instrument is designed to analyze possible causes of physical inactivity, so that a test question, in spite of its not being found as part of a factor, may reflect important information about the person. We therefore suggest that it not be removed from the questionnaire.

As for the validity of the criteria, there were made no direct measurements of the amount and intensity of daily exercise by subjects of this study, so as to be able to validate this aspect of the survey’s responses. However, the IMC and the VO2max were used as indirect parameters, since they both provide, from the anthropometric and cardiopulmonary perspectives, the population’s degree of participation in physical activity and their state of health. Concerning this aspect, there were no significant associations found between the BMI and the VO2max, and the degree or intensity of participation in physical/sports activities; however, a slight association was found with the perception of the state of health (r=0.16, p<0.05); with fitness (r=-0.22 and 0.27 p<0.01), and with a positive attitude towards success in sports (r=-0.35 and 0.23 p<0.01). Although there was not demonstrated the concurrent validity of the questionnaire in comparison with anthropometric measurements and the  VO2max, given the associations just mentioned, the questionnaire is valid for finding out what young people think of their state of health, physical appearance, physical qualities and self-esteem as related with sports.

When questionnaires of physical activity, such as the 7-day physical activity questionnaire (Ekelund, Neovius, Linne and Rossner, 2006) and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (Craig, Marshall, Sjostrom, Bauman, Booth et al, 2003), were validated, there were found slightly higher correlations (r~0.37 to 0.47) —probably the product of the degree of similarity between the questions on these questionnaires and the method used to validate them (Accelerometry in both cases), since both methods have to do with calculating the caloric expenditure of physical activity.

Moreover, we found that young people with physically-active parents had lower BMI values (data not shown). These data are also consistent with the literature, since children and adolescents tend to be more physically active if their family and friends are equally active (Davison, Cutting & Birch, 2003). Finally, according to the FIPHA, high-school students versus university students practiced physical activity of greater intensity; also men versus women. In that sense, Seclen-Palacin and Jacoby (2003) observed the same trend with different age groups, while others (Telama, Naul, Nupponen, Rychtecky & Vuolle, 2002; Pieron, Ruiz, Garcia & Diaz, 2008) agree that women engage in physical activities of lower intensity.

It is important to mention that this study has some weaknesses: 1) the questionnaire itself is a complex instrument that attempts to analyze —as well as physical/sports habits— perceptions and behaviors towards sports; however, its full validation allows it be used for analyzing various aspects of sports participation in an integrated manner. 2) Several authors recommend that in addition to the AFE there be performed a confirmatory factorial analysis (Batista-Foguet, Coenders & Alonso, 2004). Here, it was not possible to perform such a validation study because there were not enough participants, For that reason it is recommended that this be done in the near future. 3) The objective variables indicative of inactivity (BMI and VO2max) were not significantly associated with the degree or intensity of participation in physical/sports activities, but with the perception of the state of health and fitness. Among of the many reasons that can justify this fact are the size of sample; the need for re-categorizing the Likert scales into semi-quantitative scales; and the degree of similarity between the questionnaire and the method used for validation. This fact must be evaluated in future studies.

In conclusion, this questionnaire is a valid instrument for investigating physical/sports habits and behaviors in adolescents and young adults in northern Mexico. However, further confirmatory studies with a broader population sample are suggested to corroborate the concurrent validity when faced with variables that objectively assess the level of physical activity, such as those included in this study.


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Please cite the source as:

Ramos-Jimenez, A., Wall, A., Esparza, O. and Hernández, R. (2010). Validity of Pieron’s Questionnaire on Physical/Sports Habits and Behaviors in Young People from Northern Mexico, Revista Electrónica de Investigación Educativa, 12(2). Consulted (day, month, year) at

Translator: Lessie Evona York-Weatherman