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Validity of four motion sensors in measuring moderate intensity physical activity

BASSETT, DAVID R. JR., BARBARA E. AINSWORTH, ANN M. SWARTZ, SCOTT J. STRATH, WILLIAM L. O’BRIEN, GEORGE A. KING

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2000 - Volume 32 - Issue 9 - pp S471-S480
Measurement of Moderate Physical Activity: Advances in Assessment Techniques

BASSETT, D. R., Jr., B. E. AINSWORTH, A. M. SWARTZ, S. J. STRATH, W. L. O’BRIEN, and G. A. KING. Validity of four motion sensors in measuring moderate intensity physical activity. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 9, Suppl., pp. S471–S480, 2000.

Purpose: This study tested the validity of four motion sensors for measuring energy expenditure (EE) during moderate intensity physical activities in field and laboratory settings. We also evaluated the accuracy of the EE values for selected moderate activities listed in the 1993 Compendium of Physical Activities.

Methods: A total of 81 participants (age 19–74 yr) completed selected tasks from six general categories: yardwork, housework, occupation, family care, conditioning, and recreation. Twelve individuals performed each of the 28 activities examined. During each activity, EE was measured using a portable metabolic measurement system. Participants also wore three accelerometers (Computer Science and Applications [CSA], Inc. model 7164; Caltrac; and Kenz Select 2) and the Yamax SW-701 electronic pedometer. For the CSA device, three previously developed regression equations were used to convert accelerometer scores to EE.

Results: The mean error scores (indirect calorimetry minus device) across all activities were: CSA1, 0.97 MET; CSA2, 0.47 MET, CSA3, 0.05 MET; Caltrac, 0.83 MET; Kenz, 0.96 MET; and Yamax, 1.12 MET. The correlation coefficients between indirect calorimetry and motion sensors ranged from r = 0.33 to r = 0.62. The energy cost for power mowing and sweeping/mopping was higher than that listed in the 1993 Compendium (P < 0.05), and the cost for several household and recreational activities was lower (

P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Motion sensors tended to overpredict EE during walking. However, they underpredicted the energy cost of many other activities because of an inability to detect arm movements and external work. These findings illustrate some of the limitations of using motion sensors to predict EE in field settings.

Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208

Address for correspondence: David R. Bassett, Jr., Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, University of Tennessee, 1914 Andy Holt Ave., Knoxville, TN 37996; E-mail: DBassett @utk.edu.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.