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Journal Article


O'Connell S, Olaighin G, Quinlan LR. PLoS One 2017; 12(1): e0169616.


CÚRAM - Centre for Research in Medical Devices, NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland.


(Copyright © 2017, Public Library of Science)






INTRODUCTION: Physical activity is an essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle for both physical and mental health states. As step count is one of the most utilized measures for quantifying physical activity it is important that activity-monitoring devices be both sensitive and specific in recording actual steps taken and disregard non-stepping body movements. The objective of this study was to assess the specificity of five activity monitors during a variety of prescribed non-stepping activities.

METHODS: Participants wore five activity monitors simultaneously for a variety of prescribed activities including deskwork, taking an elevator, taking a bus journey, automobile driving, washing and drying dishes; functional reaching task; indoor cycling; outdoor cycling; and indoor rowing. Each task was carried out for either a specific duration of time or over a specific distance. Activity monitors tested were the ActivPAL micro™, NL-2000™ pedometer, Withings Smart Activity Monitor Tracker (Pulse O2)™, Fitbit One™ and Jawbone UP™. Participants were video-recorded while carrying out the prescribed activities and the false positive step count registered on each activity monitor was obtained and compared to the video.

RESULTS: All activity monitors registered a significant number of false positive steps per minute during one or more of the prescribed activities. The Withings™ activity performed best, registering a significant number of false positive steps per minute during the outdoor cycling activity only (P = 0.025). The Jawbone™ registered a significant number of false positive steps during the functional reaching task and while washing and drying dishes, which involved arm and hand movement (P < 0.01 for both). The ActivPAL™ registered a significant number of false positive steps during the cycling exercises (P < 0.001 for both).

CONCLUSION: As a number of false positive steps were registered on the activity monitors during the non-stepping activities, the authors conclude that non-stepping physical activities can result in the false detection of steps. This can negatively affect the quantification of physical activity with regard to step count as an output. The Withings™ activity monitor performed best with regard to specificity during the activities of daily living tested.

Language: en


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