Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Sep;38(9):1626-34.

Development of novel techniques to classify physical activity mode using accelerometers.

Author information

  • 1Department of Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.



Use of accelerometers to assess physical activity (PA) is widespread in public health research, but their utility is often limited by the accuracy of data-processing techniques. We hypothesized that more sophisticated approaches to data processing could distinguish between activity types based on accelerometer data, providing a more accurate picture of PA.


Using data from MTI Actigraphs worn by six subjects during four activities (walking, walking uphill, vacuuming, working at a computer), quadratic discriminant analysis (QDA) was performed, and a hidden Markov model (HMM) was trained to recognize the activities. The ability of the new analytic techniques to accurately classify PA was assessed.


The mean (SE) percentage of time points for which the QDA correctly identified activity mode was 70.9% (1.2%). Computer work was correctly recognized most frequently (mean (SE) percent correct = 100% (0.01%)), followed by vacuuming (67.5% (1.5%)), uphill walking (58.2% (3.5%)), and walking (53.6% (3.3%)). The mean (SE) percentage of time points for which the HMM correctly identified activity mode was 80.8% (0.9%). Vacuuming was correctly recognized most frequently (mean (SE) percent correct = 98.8% (0.05%)), followed by computer work (97.3% (0.7%)), walking (62.6% (2.3%)), and uphill walking (62.5% (2.3%)). In contrast to a traditional method of data processing that misidentified the intensity level of 100% of the time spent vacuuming and walking uphill, the QDA and HMM approaches correctly estimated the intensity of activity 99% of the time.


The novel approach of estimating activity mode, rather than activity level, may allow for more accurate field-based estimates of physical activity using accelerometer data, and this approach warrants more study in a larger and more diverse population of subjects and activities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center