Effect of combined movement and heart rate monitor placement on physical activity estimates during treadmill locomotion and free-living

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Mar;96(5):517-24. doi: 10.1007/s00421-005-0112-6. Epub 2005 Dec 13.


A placement effect on activity measures from movement sensors has been reported during treadmill and free-living activity. Positioning of electrodes may impact on movement artifact susceptibility as well as surface ECG waveform amplitudes and thus potentially on the precision by which heart rate (HR) is ascertained from such ECG traces. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which placement of the combined HR and movement sensor, Actiheart, influences measurement of HR and movement, and estimates of energy expenditure. A total of 24 participants (20-39 years, 45-109 kg, 1.54-2.05 m, 19-29 kg m(-2)) were recruited. Whilst wearing two monitors, one placed at the level of the third intercostal space (upper position) and one just below the apex of the sternum (lower position), study participants performed level walking, incline walking, and level running on treadmill, and completed at least one day of free-living monitoring. Placement differences in HR data quality, movement counts, and energy expenditure (estimated from combined HR and movement) were analyzed with regression techniques. Quality of HR data was generally higher when monitors were placed in the lower position. This effect was more pronounced in men during both treadmill activity (relative risk, RR [95% CI] of noisy HR data in upper vs. lower position, RR=1.3[0.3; 5.6] in women, RR=174[14; 2,156] in men) and during free-living (RR=1.2[0.4; 3.3] in women, RR=25[9.6; 67] in men). There were minor placement differences (< or =8%) in movement counts only in women during incline walking and running. During free-living, no placement effect on counts was observed. In all test scenarios, estimates of energy expenditure from the two positions were not significantly different. Positioning the Actiheart at the level below the sternum may yield cleaner HR data. Regardless of which position is used, this has little or no effect on movement counts and energy expenditure estimates, which is encouraging for studies where research participants may have to position the monitors themselves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Artifacts
  • Electrocardiography / methods*
  • Electrocardiography / standards*
  • Electrodes
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ribs
  • Sex Factors
  • Sternum