Background: The aim of this study was to validate a triaxial accelerometer setup for identifying everyday physical activity types (ie, sitting, standing, walking, walking stairs, running, and cycling).
Methods: Seventeen subjects equipped with triaxial accelerometers (ActiGraph GT3X+) at the thigh and hip carried out a standardized test procedure including walking, running, cycling, walking stairs, sitting, and standing still. A method was developed (Acti4) to discriminate between these physical activity types based on threshold values of standard deviation of acceleration and the derived inclination. Moreover, the ability of the accelerometer placed at the thigh to detect sitting posture was separately validated during free living by comparison with recordings of pressure sensors in the hip pockets.
Results: Sensitivity for discriminating between the physical activity types sitting, standing, walking, running, and cycling in the standardized trials were 99%-100% and 95% for walking stairs. Specificity was higher than 99% for all activities. During free living (140 hours of measurements), sensitivity and specificity for detection of sitting posture were 98% and 93%, respectively.
Conclusion: The developed method for detecting physical activity types showed a high sensitivity and specificity for sitting, standing, walking, running, walking stairs, and cycling in a standardized setting and for sitting posture during free living.