Effects of walking speed and step frequency on estimation of physical activity using accelerometers

J Physiol Anthropol. 2011;30(3):119-27. doi: 10.2114/jpa2.30.119.


This study evaluated the accuracy of assessing step counts and energy costs under walking conditions altered by step frequency changes at given speeds using uni- (LC) and tri-axial accelerometers (AM, ASP). Healthy young men and women (n=18) volunteered as subjects. Nine tests were designed to manipulate three step frequencies, low (-15% of normal), normal, and high (+15%), at each walking speed (55, 75, and 95 m/min). A facemask connected to a Douglas bag was attached to subjects, who wore accelerometers around their waist. LC underestimated the step counts at normal or high step frequency at 55 m/min and AM also at all step frequencies at 55 m/min, whereas ASP did not in all trials. LC underestimated metabolic equivalents (METs) at low or normal step frequency at all walking speeds. AM underestimated METs at low step frequency at all walking speeds and at high step frequency of 95 m/min. ASP gave underestimates only at low step frequency of 95 m/min. The degree of the percentage error of METs for AM and ASP was affected by step frequency. Significant interaction between step frequency and speed was found that for LC. These results suggest that LC and AM can cause errors in step-count functions at a low walking speed. Furthermore, LC may show low accuracy of the METs measurement during walking altered according to step frequency and speed, whereas AM and ASP, which are tri-axial accelerometers, are more accurate but the degree of the percentage error is affected by step frequency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Equivalent / physiology
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Motor Activity
  • Regression Analysis
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult