Physical activity classification using the GENEA wrist-worn accelerometer

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Apr;44(4):742-8. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31823bf95c.


Introduction: Most accelerometer-based activity monitors are worn on the waist or lower back for assessment of habitual physical activity. Output is in arbitrary counts that can be classified by activity intensity according to published thresholds. The purpose of this study was to develop methods to classify physical activities into walking, running, household, or sedentary activities based on raw acceleration data from the GENEA (Gravity Estimator of Normal Everyday Activity) and compare classification accuracy from a wrist-worn GENEA with a waist-worn GENEA.

Methods: Sixty participants (age = 49.4 ± 6.5 yr, body mass index = 24.6 ± 3.4 kg·m⁻²) completed an ordered series of 10-12 semistructured activities in the laboratory and outdoor environment. Throughout, three GENEA accelerometers were worn: one at the waist, one on the left wrist, and one on the right wrist. Acceleration data were collected at 80 Hz. Features obtained from both fast Fourier transform and wavelet decomposition were extracted, and machine learning algorithms were used to classify four types of daily activities including sedentary, household, walking, and running activities.

Results: The computational results demonstrated that the algorithm we developed can accurately classify certain types of daily activities, with high overall classification accuracy for both waist-worn GENEA (0.99) and wrist-worn GENEA (right wrist = 0.97, left wrist = 0.96).

Conclusions: We have successfully developed algorithms suitable for use with wrist-worn accelerometers for detecting certain types of physical activities; the performance is comparable to waist-worn accelerometers for assessment of physical activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Motor Activity*
  • Running
  • Walking