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Validity of Consumer-Based Physical Activity Monitors

LEE, JUNG-MIN1; KIM, YOUNGWON2; WELK, GREGORY J.2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 9 - p 1840–1848
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000287
Applied Sciences

Background: Many consumer-based monitors are marketed to provide personal information on the levels of physical activity and daily energy expenditure (EE), but little or no information is available to substantiate their validity.

Purpose: This study aimed to examine the validity of EE estimates from a variety of consumer-based, physical activity monitors under free-living conditions.

Methods: Sixty (26.4 ± 5.7 yr) healthy males (n = 30) and females (n = 30) wore eight different types of activity monitors simultaneously while completing a 69-min protocol. The monitors included the BodyMedia FIT armband worn on the left arm, the DirectLife monitor around the neck, the Fitbit One, the Fitbit Zip, and the ActiGraph worn on the belt, as well as the Jawbone Up and Basis B1 Band monitor on the wrist. The validity of the EE estimates from each monitor was evaluated relative to criterion values concurrently obtained from a portable metabolic system (i.e., Oxycon Mobile). Differences from criterion measures were expressed as a mean absolute percent error and were evaluated using 95% equivalence testing.

Results: For overall group comparisons, the mean absolute percent error values (computed as the average absolute value of the group-level errors) were 9.3%, 10.1%, 10.4%, 12.2%, 12.6%, 12.8%, 13.0%, and 23.5% for the BodyMedia FIT, Fitbit Zip, Fitbit One, Jawbone Up, ActiGraph, DirectLife, NikeFuel Band, and Basis B1 Band, respectively. The results from the equivalence testing showed that the estimates from the BodyMedia FIT, Fitbit Zip, and NikeFuel Band (90% confidence interval = 341.1–359.4) were each within the 10% equivalence zone around the indirect calorimetry estimate.

Conclusions: The indicators of the agreement clearly favored the BodyMedia FIT armband, but promising preliminary findings were also observed with the Fitbit Zip.

1School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE; 2Department of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Address for correspondence: Jung-Min Lee, Ph.D., School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68182; E-mail: jungminlee@unomaha.edu.

Submitted for publication October 2013.

Accepted for publication January 2014.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine