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Validity of physical activity monitors in adults participating in free-living activities
  1. S Berntsen1,2,
  2. R Hageberg1,
  3. A Aandstad3,
  4. P Mowinckel2,
  5. S A Anderssen1,
  6. K-H Carlsen1,4,5,
  7. L B Andersen1
  1. 1Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Woman–Child Division, Department of Paediatrics, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Defence Institute,Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  5. 5Voksentoppen, Department of Paediatrics, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Sveinung Berntsen, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, PO Box 4014, Ullevaal Stadion, NO0806 Oslo, Norway; sveinung.berntsen{at}


Background For a given subject, time in moderate to very vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) varies substantially among physical activity monitors.

Objective In the present study, the primary objective, whether time in MVPA recorded with SenseWear Pro2 Armband (Armband; BodyMedia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA), ActiGraph (7164, LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA), ikcal (Teltronic AG, Biberist, Switzerland) and ActiReg (PreMed AS, Oslo, Norway) is different compared with indirect calorimetry, was determined. The secondary objective, whether these activity monitors estimate energy expenditure differently compared with indirect calorimetry, was also determined.

Material and methods The activity monitors and a portable oxygen analyser were worn by 14 men and 6 women for 120 min doing a variety of activities of different intensities. Resting metabolic rate was measured with indirect calorimetry. The cutoff points defining moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity were three, six and nine times resting metabolic rate.

Results Time in MVPA was overestimated by 2.9% and 2.5% by Armband and ActiGraph, respectively, and was underestimated by 11.6% and 98.7% by ikcal and ActiReg, respectively. ActiReg (p = 0.004) and ActiGraph (p = 0.007) underestimated energy expenditure in MVPA, and all monitors underestimated total energy expenditure (by 5% to 21%).

Conclusions Recorded time in MVPA and energy expenditure varies substantially among physical activity monitors. Thus, when comparing physical activity level among studies, it is essential to know the type of physical activity monitor being used.

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  • Funding The study is performed within the ORAACLE (the Oslo Research Group of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood; the Lung and Environment), which is part of the Ga2len network.

  • Competing interests None.