Validity of two wearable monitors to estimate breaks from sedentary time

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Nov;44(11):2243-52. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318260c477.


Investigations using wearable monitors have begun to examine how sedentary time behaviors influence health.

Purpose: The objective of this study is to demonstrate the use of a measure of sedentary behavior and to validate the activPAL (PAL Technologies Ltd., Glasgow, Scotland) and ActiGraph GT3X (Actigraph, Pensacola, FL) for estimating measures of sedentary behavior: absolute number of breaks and break rate.

Methods: Thirteen participants completed two 10-h conditions. During the baseline condition, participants performed normal daily activity, and during the treatment condition, participants were asked to reduce and break up their sedentary time. In each condition, participants wore two ActiGraph GT3X monitors and one activPAL. The ActiGraph was tested using the low-frequency extension filter (AG-LFE) and the normal filter (AG-Norm). For both ActiGraph monitors, two count cut points to estimate sedentary time were examined: 100 and 150 counts per minute. Direct observation served as the criterion measure of total sedentary time, absolute number of breaks from sedentary time, and break rate (number of breaks per sedentary hour (brk·sed-h)).

Results: Break rate was the only metric sensitive to changes in behavior between baseline (5.1 [3.3-6.8] brk·sed-h) and treatment conditions (7.3 [4.7-9.8] brk·sed-h) (mean (95% confidence interval)). The activPAL produced valid estimates of all sedentary behavior measures and was sensitive to changes in break rate between conditions (baseline, 5.1 [2.8-7.1] brk·sed-h; treatment, 8.0 [5.8-10.2] brk·sed-h). In general, the AG-LFE and AG-Norm were not accurate in estimating break rate or the absolute number of breaks and were not sensitive to changes between conditions.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates the use of expressing breaks from sedentary time as a rate per sedentary hour, a metric specifically relevant to free-living behavior, and provides further evidence that the activPAL is a valid tool to measure components of sedentary behavior in free-living environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / instrumentation*
  • Actigraphy / standards
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Scotland
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Young Adult