Step counting and energy expenditure estimation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and healthy elderly: accuracy of 2 motion sensors

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Feb;91(2):261-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2009.10.024.


Objective: To compare the accuracy of 2 motion sensors (a pedometer and a multisensor) in terms of step counting and estimation of energy expenditure (EE) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and in healthy elderly.

Design: In this descriptive study, all participants wore both motion sensors while performing a treadmill walking protocol at 3 different speeds corresponding to 30%, 60%, and 100% of the average speed achieved during a six-minute walk test. As criterion methods, EE was estimated by indirect calorimetry, and steps were registered by videotape.

Setting: Research laboratory at a university hospital.

Participants: Patients with COPD (n=30; 17 men; mean age +/- SD, 67+/-8 y; mean forced expiratory volume in the first second [FEV(1)] predicted +/- SD, 46%+/-17%; mean body mass index [BMI] +/- SD, 24+/-4 kg.m(2)) and matched healthy elderly (n=30; 15 men; mean age +/- SD, 68+/-7 y; mean FEV(1) predicted +/- SD, 104%+/-21%; mean BMI +/- SD, 25+/-3 kg.m(2)).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measure: Step counting and EE estimation during a treadmill walking protocol.

Results: The pedometer was accurate for step counting and EE estimation in both patients with COPD and healthy elderly at the higher speed. However, it showed significant underestimation at the 2 slower speeds in both groups. The multisensor did not detect steps accurately at any speed, although it accurately estimated EE at all speeds in healthy elderly and at the intermediate and higher speeds in patients with COPD.

Conclusions: In both patients with COPD and healthy elderly, the multisensor showed better EE estimates during most walking speeds than the pedometer. Conversely, for step counting, accuracy is observed only with the pedometer during the higher walking speed in both groups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Aged
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Transducers
  • Walking / physiology*