University of Oulu

Leinonen A-M, Ahola R, Kulmala J, Hakonen H, Vähä-Ypyä H, Herzig K-H, Auvinen J, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S, Sievänen H, Tammelin TH, Korpelainen R and Jämsä T (2017) Measuring Physical Activity in Free-Living Conditions—Comparison of Three Accelerometry-Based Methods. Front. Physiol. 7:681. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00681

Measuring physical activity in free-living conditions : comparison of three accelerometry-based methods

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Author: Leinonen, Anna-Maiju1,2,3; Ahola, Riikka1,4; Kulmala, Janne5;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Infotech Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute, Oulu, Finland
4Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5LIKES - Research Center for Sport and Health Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland
6UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland
7Research Unit of Biomedicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Department of Gastroenterology and Metabolism, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland
9Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
10Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
11Diagnostic Radiology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-02-20


We examined the agreement in time spent on different physical activity (PA) levels using (1) mean amplitude deviation (MAD) of raw acceleration from the hip, (2) wrist-worn Polar Active, and (3) hip-worn Actigraph counts using Freedson’s cut-points among adults under free-living conditions. PA was measured in 41 volunteers (mean age 47.6 years) for 14 days. Two MET-based threshold sets were used for MAD and Polar Active for sedentary time (ST) and time spent in light (LPA), moderate (MPA), and vigorous (VPA) PA. Actigraph counts were divided into PA classes, ≤100 counts/min for ST and Freedson’s cut-points for LPA, MPA, and VPA. Analysis criteria were simultaneous use of devices for at least 4 days of >500 min/d. The between-method differences were analyzed using a repeated measures analysis of variance test. Bland-Altman plots and ROC graphs were also employed. Valid data were available from 27 participants. Polar Active produced the highest amount of VPA with both thresholds (≥5 and ≥6 MET; mean difference 17.9–30.9 min/d, P <0.001). With the threshold 3–6 MET for MPA, Polar Active indicated 19.2 min/d more than MAD (95% CI 5.8–32.6) and 51.0 min/d more than Actigraph (95% CI 36.7–65.2). The results did not differ with 3.5–5 MET for MPA [F(1.44, 37.43) = 1.92, P = 0.170]. MAD and Actigraph were closest to each other for ST with the threshold <1.5 MET (mean difference 22.2 min/d, 95% CI 7.1–37.3). With the threshold <2 MET, Polar Active and Actigraph provided similar results (mean difference 7.0 min/d, 95% CI −17.8–31.7). Moderate to high agreement (area under the ROC curve 0.806–0.963) was found between the methods for the fulfillment of the recommendation for daily moderate-to-vigorous PA of 60 min. In free-living conditions the agreement between MAD, Polar Active, and Actigraph for measuring time spent on different activity levels in adults was dependent on the activity thresholds used and PA intensity. ROC analyses showed moderate to high agreement for the fulfillment of the recommendation for daily MVPA. Without additional statistical adjustment, these methods cannot be used interchangeably when measuring daily PA, but any of the methods can be used to identify persons with insufficient daily amount of MVPA.

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Series: Frontiers in physiology
ISSN: 1664-042X
ISSN-E: 1664-042X
ISSN-L: 1664-042X
Volume: 7
Article number: 681
DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00681
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: This work was financially supported by Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program, European Regional Development Fund under Grant 539/2010 A31592, Ministry of Education and Culture, and Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Copyright information: Copyright © 2017 Leinonen, Ahola, Kulmala, Hakonen, Vähä-Ypyä, Herzig, Auvinen, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi, Sievänen, Tammelin, Korpelainen and Jämsä. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.