Review of physical activity measurement using accelerometers in older adults: considerations for research design and conduct

Prev Med. 2009 Feb;48(2):108-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.12.001. Epub 2008 Dec 10.


Objective: Accelerometers are being increasingly used in studies of physical activity (PA) among older adults, however the use of these monitors requires some specialized knowledge and up-to-date information on technological innovations. The purpose of this review article is to provide researchers with a guide to some commonly-used accelerometers in order to better design and conduct PA research with older adults.

Methods: A literature search was conducted to obtain all available literature on commonly-used accelerometers in older adult samples with specific attention to articles discussing research design.

Results: The use of accelerometers in older adults requires a basic understanding of the type being used, rationale for their placement, and attention to calibration when needed. The updated technology in some monitors should make study conduct less difficult, however comparison studies of the newer versus the older generation models will be needed.

Conclusions: Careful considerations for design and conduct of accelerometer research as outlined in this review should help to enhance the quality and comparability of future research studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Ergometry / instrumentation
  • Ergometry / methods
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory* / instrumentation
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory* / methods
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory* / standards
  • Motor Activity*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Research Design
  • Time Factors
  • Validation Studies as Topic