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Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Feb;36(2):167-77. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2011.99. Epub 2011 May 17.

Advances in physical activity monitoring and lifestyle interventions in obesity: a review.

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  • 1Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Obesity represents a strong risk factor for developing chronic diseases. Strategies for disease prevention often promote lifestyle changes encouraging participation in physical activity. However, determining what amount of physical activity is necessary for achieving specific health benefits has been hampered by the lack of accurate instruments for monitoring physical activity and the related physiological outcomes. This review aims at presenting recent advances in activity-monitoring technology and their application to support interventions for health promotion. Activity monitors have evolved from step counters and measuring devices of physical activity duration and intensity to more advanced systems providing quantitative and qualitative information on the individuals' activity behavior. Correspondingly, methods to predict activity-related energy expenditure using bodily acceleration and subjects characteristics have advanced from linear regression to innovative algorithms capable of determining physical activity types and the related metabolic costs. These novel techniques can monitor modes of sedentary behavior as well as the engagement in specific activity types that helps to evaluate the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions. In conclusion, advances in activity monitoring have the potential to support the design of response-dependent physical activity recommendations that are needed to generate effective and personalized lifestyle interventions for health promotion.

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