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The validity and reliability of a novel activity monitor as a measure of walking


Background: The accurate measurement of physical activity is crucial to understanding the relationship between physical activity and disease prevention and treatment.

Objective: The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the validity and reliability of the activPAL physical activity monitor in measuring step number and cadence.

Methods: The ability of the activPAL monitor to measure step number and cadence in 20 healthy adults (age 34.5±6.9 years; BMI 26.8±4.8 (mean±SD)) was evaluated against video observation. Concurrently, the accuracy of two commonly used pedometers, the Yamax Digi-Walker SW-200 and the Omron HJ-109-E, was compared to observation for measuring step number. Participants walked on a treadmill at five different speeds (0.90, 1.12, 1.33, 1.56, and 1.78 m/s) and outdoors at three self selected speeds (slow, normal, and fast).

Results: At all speeds, inter device reliability was excellent for the activPAL (ICC (2,1)⩾0.99) for both step number and cadence. The absolute percentage error for the activPAL was <1.11% for step number and cadence regardless of walking speed. The accuracy of the pedometers was adversely affected by slow walking speeds.

Conclusion: The activPAL monitor is a valid and reliable measure of walking in healthy adults. Its accuracy is not influenced by walking speed. The activPAL may be a useful device in sports medicine.

  • cadence
  • measurement
  • physical activity
  • step number
  • walking

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    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine