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Active Voice: How Accurate Are Wearable Activity Monitors?

from By Jung-Min Lee, Ph.D.

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Jung-Min Lee, Ph.D. completed his doctoral training at Iowa State University and currently is an assistant professor in the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at the University of Nebraska - Omaha. Dr. Lee's research encompasses physical activity and health promotion, focusing on the development and validation of objective techniques to assess habitual physical activity among diverse audiences and, for the physical activity environment, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

This commentary presents Dr. Lee’s views on the topic of an article which he and his colleagues published in the July-August 2014 issue of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal (FIT).

Physical activity has been studied with various monitoring methods. It started with a variety of assessment tools such as activity logs, questionnaires, and direct observation, then progressed to wearable monitors including pedometers, heart rate monitors, and accelerometers. All of these methods have been tested both in the laboratory and free-living conditions. Among these, accelerometry-based activity monitors have been widely adapted as an objective assessment tool to measure individual’s regular physical activity.

Over the last several decades, tracking or monitoring physical activity was utilized primarily for research purposes - to examine the relationship between individuals’ daily physical activity level and health related outcomes. However, with significant advances in accelerometer technology and the public’s increased awareness of physical fitness, numerous companies have developed wearable monitors designed to help individuals track their personal activity patterns. more

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