The accuracy of various activity trackers in estimating steps taken and energy expenditure

Issue: Vol. 3, No. 3

Published by Journal of Fitness Research, December 2014. Volume 3

Tags: Step Counting , Energy Expenditure , Monitoring Training

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  1. Caitlin M. Stackpool (Corresponding Author)
    Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA
  2. John P. Porcari
    Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA
  3. Richard P. Mikat
    Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA
  4. Cordial Gillette
  5. Carl Foster
    Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA
    133 Mitchell Hall, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA. Phone: 608 785 8687, Fax: 608 785 8172

Abstract

Purpose: Activity monitors are designed for helping to monitor the quantity and intensity of exercisetraining. While there is a reasonable experience with step counters, there are a rapidly expandingnumber of devices available on the marketplace, many purporting to be able to accurately measureenergy expenditure (EE). This study was designed to test the accuracy of step count and energyexpenditure in several commercially available activity monitors.

Methods: Healthy, physically-active volunteers (N=20) performed treadmill walking, treadmill running,elliptical (arm + leg) exercise and an agility drill that included some basketball actions while wearingstep counters/activity monitors (Jawbone UP, Nike Fuelband, Fitbit Ultra, NL-2000i, Adidas MiCoach,Body Media FIT Core). Criterion step counts were measured by direct visual observation and EE wasmeasured by a portable metabolic system.

Results: During normal ambulation and elliptical exercise, most of the measured step counts werereasonably accurate (+10% of the criterion measure). During the agility drills, the errors in step countswere systematically less than the criterion measure. Although some of the devices were reasonablyaccurate for measuring EE during normal ambulation, the errors in measuring EE were, in general,unacceptably large and became larger with non-standard ambulation. However, measured across theentire range of activities, both step counts and EE were broadly accurate if not precise.

Conclusions: The results suggest that step count accuracy during normal ambulation can be measuredaccurately by a number of devices. However, during non-standard ambulation (particularly formeasurement of EE), these contemporary activity monitoring devices require improved algorithms.

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ISSN 2201-5655 © 2014, Australian Institute of Fitness


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Article Title

The accuracy of various activity trackers in estimating steps taken and energy expenditure

Journal Title

Journal of Fitness Research Volume 3

Online Publication Date

December 2014

Author Names

Caitlin M. Stackpool (Corresponding Author)
John P. Porcari
Richard P. Mikat
Cordial Gillette
Carl Foster
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