Key Concepts about Identifying Physical Activity Questionnaire Variables and File Locations

NHANES data files are organized into four categories:

  • Demographics files contain survey design variables, such as sample weights, strata, and primary sampling units, as well as demographic characteristics, such as sex, age, and race.
  • Examination files contain information collected through interviews in the mobile exam center and physical exams (including anthropometric and physical activity data, dental exams, and 24-hour dietary recall interviews).
  • Laboratory files contain results from analyses of blood, urine, hair, tuberculin skin test, air, and household dust and water specimens.
  • Questionnaire files contain data collected through household and Mobile Examination Center (MEC) interviews.

Physical activity questionnaire variables are included in the PAQ and PAQIAF data files, which are stored in the Questionnaire section for each 2-year cycle of the continuous NHANES.

The PAQ files include an extensive array of questions related to daily activities, leisure-time activities, and sedentary activities. The PAQIAF files include detailed information about specific leisure-time activities.  All NHANES participants have data in PAQ, but only those respondents who indicate that they engaged in leisure-time activity have data in the PAQIAF file.