Validation of Consumer-Based Hip and Wrist Activity Monitors in Older Adults With Varied Ambulatory Abilities

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Feb;72(2):229-236. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glw098. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


Background: The accuracy of step detection in consumer-based wearable activity monitors in older adults with varied ambulatory abilities is not known.

Methods: We assessed the validity of two hip-worn (Fitbit One and Omron HJ-112) and two wrist-worn (Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP) activity monitors in 99 older adults of varying ambulatory abilities and also included the validity results from the ankle-worn StepWatch as a comparison device. Nonimpaired, impaired (Short Physical Performance Battery Score < 9), cane-using, or walker-using older adults (62 and older) ambulated at a self-selected pace for 100 m wearing all activity monitors simultaneously. The criterion measure was directly observed steps. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), mean percent error and mean absolute percent error, equivalency, and Bland-Altman plots were used to assess accuracy.

Results: Nonimpaired adults steps were underestimated by 4.4% for StepWatch (ICC = 0.87), 2.6% for Fitbit One (ICC = 0.80), 4.5% for Omron HJ-112 (ICC = 0.72), 26.9% for Fitbit Flex (ICC = 0.15), and 2.9% for Jawbone UP (ICC = 0.55). Impaired adults steps were underestimated by 3.5% for StepWatch (ICC = 0.91), 1.7% for Fitbit One (ICC = 0.96), 3.2% for Omron HJ-112 (ICC = 0.89), 16.3% for Fitbit Flex (ICC = 0.25), and 8.4% for Jawbone UP (ICC = 0.50). Cane-user and walker-user steps were underestimated by StepWatch by 1.8% (ICC = 0.98) and 1.3% (ICC = 0.99), respectively, where all other monitors underestimated steps by >11.5% (ICCs < 0.05).

Conclusions: StepWatch, Omron HJ-112, Fitbit One, and Jawbone UP appeared accurate at measuring steps in older adults with nonimpaired and impaired ambulation during a self-paced walking test. StepWatch also appeared accurate at measuring steps in cane-users.

Keywords: Accelerometer; Accuracy; Exercise; Pedometer; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hip / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory*
  • Wrist / physiology*