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Step Count Filters in Wearable Step Counters: 1355 Board #30 June 1 900 AM - 1030 AM

Toth, Lindsay; Park, Susan; Pittman, Whitney; Sarasaltik, Damla; Morton, Alvin L.; Bassett, David R. FACSM

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 5S - p 366
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000517885.68396.5b
C-31 Free Communication/Poster - Activity Trackers and Smartwatches Thursday, June 1, 2017, 7:30 AM - 12:30 PM Room: Hall F

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. (Sponsor: David R. Bassett, FACSM)


(No relationships reported)

Manufacturers of step counting devices apply filters to their step counting algorithms to prevent accumulation of steps when none are taken (i.e. false positives). However because filters prevent steps from being recorded during short, intermittent walking bouts, it is possible that these filters may be a source of error. Since few manufacturers disclose the type of filter they use, we decided to investigate this topic.

PURPOSE: To determine whether the devices used in this study have a filter, and to describe the effects of the filter on short, intermittent walking bouts with varied walk and pause durations.

METHODS: In Parts A and B, 20 participants performed intermittent walking bouts for 2 min, at a cadence of 100 steps/min. In Part A participants were instructed to walk a certain number of steps (i.e. 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12) followed by a 10-sec pause and repeat this until the trial ended. In Part B participants were instructed to walk four steps followed by various pause intervals (i.e. 8, 6, 4, 2, and 1 sec) and repeat this. A researcher counted steps using a hand-tally device (criterion). “Percent of actual steps taken” was used for statistical analysis. A one-way repeated measures ANOVA was completed for both parts. In the case of significant overall effects (p < 0.05), the results were further examined using planned contrasts to see which conditions differed from the criterion.

RESULTS: In Parts A and B the multivariate results for ActiGraph GT3X (AG) (without low frequency extension) worn at the wrist, StepWatch 3, and Yamax Digi-Walker SW-200 were not significantly different from the criterion, indicating absence of a step count filter. Walking bouts shorter than 4 steps (AG at the hip), 6 steps (Withings), 8 steps (Omron and Garmin Vivofit 2), and 12 steps (Polar A360), resulted in a significant decrease in the number of steps counted, indicating presence of a filter. The minimum pause needed to break up a walking bout was 1 sec (Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Zip, and Withings), and < 1 sec (Omron HJ-322U). For both the Polar and Garmin, the longer the pause, the less likely they were to record steps.

CONCLUSIONS: Devices with step count filters will contribute to error in daily step counts because steps taken during short, intermittent walking bouts (e.g., meal preparation, and housework) are not registered.

© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine