Best Practices for Using Physical Activity Monitors in Population-Based Research

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Jan;44(1 Suppl 1):S68-76. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182399e5b.


The use of physical activity monitors in population-based research has increased dramatically in the past decade. In this report, we review the major purpose for using physical activity monitors in different types of population-based studies (i.e., surveillance, intervention, association studies) and discuss the strengths and weaknesses for the various behavioral outcomes derived from monitors for each study type. We also update and extend previous recommendations for use of these instruments in large-scale studies, particularly with respect to selecting monitor systems in the context of technological advances that have occurred in recent years. The current state of the science with respect to optimal measurement schedules for use of physical activity monitors is also discussed. A checklist and flowchart are provided so that investigators have more guidance when reporting key elements of monitor use in their studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*