Validity and reproducibility of motion sensors in youth: a systematic update

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Apr;41(4):818-27. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31818e5819.


Purpose: To review recently published studies on the reproducibility, validity, and feasibility of motion sensors used to assess physical activity in healthy children and adolescents (2-18 yr).

Methods: On October 2004, a systematic literature search in PubMed, EMBASE, and PsycINFO was performed. This search has been updated on October 2007. In this update, the clinimetric quality of three pedometers (Digi-Walker, Walk4Life, and Sun TrekLINQ) and nine accelerometers (ActiGraph, BioTrainer, StepWatch Activity Monitor, Actiwatch, Actical, Tritrac-R3D, RT3, ActivTracer, and Mini-Motionlogger) has been evaluated and compared using a checklist.

Results: Thirty-two recently published clinimetric studies have been reviewed. All 12 motion sensors have been validated in youth in one or more studies. There is strong evidence for moderate validity of the StepWatch in children and adolescents (4-18 yr) and moderate to good validity of the ActiGraph in preschool children and young children (2-8 yr). There is less evidence for the reproducibility and feasibility of the 12 motion sensors. Strong evidence exists for good reproducibility of the ActiGraph in preschool children (2-4 yr).

Conclusion: Compared to the review performed in 2004, there is increased evidence for the clinimetric quality of pedometers and accelerometers in youth. Most motion sensors seem reproducible, valid, and feasible in assessing physical activity in youth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Movement*
  • Validation Studies as Topic