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Advances in the science of objective physical activity monitoring: 3rd International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement
  1. Stewart G Trost1,
  2. Catrine Tudor-Locke2
  1. 1Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, School of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Walking Behavior Laboratory, Population and Public Health Sciences, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Stewart G Trost, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, School of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, 4059, Australia; s.trost{at}

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This theme issue of BJSM presents key papers from the 3rd International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement (ICAMPAM). The July 2013 conference was hosted by the University of Massachusetts and was attended by researchers, clinicians, students and technology vendors for North America, Europe, Australasia and Asia.

Delegates from a wide range of academic disciplines and professions, including sports medicine, computer science and engineering, statistics, exercise science, rehabilitation science, and health promotion presented symposia and papers addressing five broad conference themes: (1) behaviour and health outcomes; (2) data processing, statistics and computation science; (3) validation and calibration; (4) engineering and tool development and (5) clinical applications.

ICAMPAM was a truly unique scientific meeting in that it provided an international forum for the dissemination of cutting edge multidisciplinary research related to the measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviours in daily life. While the focus of the conference was primarily methodological, the resultant advances in measurement technology have immediate and positive impacts on clinical and public health research and practice. As briefly summarised below, we are delighted to present six outstanding papers representing the conference that are related to the application of objective measures in clinical and public health contexts. In addition, an invited keynote from the conference—by Harvard's professor I Min Lee—was rushed to production for February 2014 issue (part 3) of BJSM and can be found here.1

Looking back—moving forward

In this narrative review, Professor Richard Troiano and colleagues (see page 1019) summarise the history of accelerometer use in physical activity and sedentary behaviour research, discuss new directions in the collection and processing of accelerometer data and reflect on the differences between accelerometer-based and self-reported physical activity and sedentary behaviour data. The review is essential reading for researchers and clinicians with a particular interest in reconciling the differences between objectively measured and self-reported physical activity and sedentary behaviours and all end users wishing to learn more about new approaches to accelerometer data reduction.

Application in public health research

How does physical activity affect bone health in kids? Iowa's doyenne of skeletal science, Professor Kathleen Janz and colleagues (see page 1032) report the results of a prospective cohort study investigating the cumulative effects of objectively measured physical activity during childhood and adolescence on bone health in early adulthood. The study highlights the utility of accelerometer-based physical activity assessments in epidemiological research. The paper also showcases the effective use of longitudinal motion sensor data by employing statistical methodology to identify clusters of children who exhibited similar physical activity trajectories between the ages of 5 and 17 years.

Stephens and coworkers (see page 1037) employ new approaches to reporting and summarising motion sensor data. After the implementation of an effective intervention to reduce sitting time in office workers, the authors explored how and when reductions in sitting time occurred (using an instrument designed specifically to assess posture). The results have important implications for both the measurement of sitting time in free-living contexts and the conduct of workplace behaviour change interventions.

Filling gaps in objective monitoring research

Researchers and clinicians employing device-based measures of physical activity and sedentary behaviour have long sought data on validity and reliability. Sensitivity to detect change has received only minor research attention despite the widespread use of objective measurements in interventions designed to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour. The study by Swartz and colleagues (see page 1043) addresses this significant gap by evaluating the responsiveness of two widely used, but contrasting objective measures of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. The results are encouraging, in that divergent ambulatory monitoring approaches appear to be equally responsive and able to detect the relatively small effects observed in most intervention programmes.

Conger and colleagues (see page 1048) establish the feasibility of using a commercially-available power metre to measure the energy cost of wheelchair locomotion. The study is innovative in that existing approaches to objectively measuring movement behaviour in wheelchair users provide information on the volume of activity but do not differentiate the changes in energy expenditure associated with negotiating inclines and difficult terrains. The results have important implications for the assessment of physical activity intensity and energy expenditure in individuals with mobility-limiting impairments that require wheelchair assistance.

Pragmatic measures for real-world settings

The final of the six ICAMPAM papers by Brown and coworkers (see page 1054) highlight the concurrent use of accelerometer-based motion sensors and Global Positioning System (GPS) data loggers to address the when, where and why individuals engage in bouts of health-enhancing physical activity. The paper also demonstrates the effective use of objective monitoring information to enhance the recall of contextual information and motivational factors.

Enjoy this ICAMPAM thematic issue of BJSM; if you like it, remember that the February 2014 issue of BJSM (issue 3) also focused on physical activity and health (link here

The 4th ICAMPAM meeting will take place next summer––10–12 June 2015. It will be hosted at the beautiful and historic campus at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Information about the meeting can be obtained from We hope to see you there.



  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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