Criterion validity of the activPAL™ and ActiGraph for assessing children's sitting and standing time in a school classroom setting

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2016 Jul 7;13:75. doi: 10.1186/s12966-016-0402-x.


Background: Few studies have investigated the accuracy of the ActiGraph (AG) GTX3 accelerometer for assessing children's sitting and standing time. The activPAL (aP) has an inclinometer function that enables it to distinguish between sitting/lying and standing; however, its accuracy for assessing sitting and standing in older children is unknown. This study validated the accuracy of these devices for estimating sitting and standing time in a school classroom against a criterion measure of direct observation (DO).

Findings: Forty children in grades 5-7 wore both devices while being video recorded during two school lessons. AG and aP data were simultaneously collected in 15-s epochs. Individual participant DO and aP data were recorded as total time spent sitting/lying, standing and stepping. AG data were converted into time spent sitting and standing using previously established cut-points. Compared with DO, the aP underestimated sitting time (mean bias = -1.9 min, 95 % LoA = -8.9 to 5.2 min) and overestimated standing time (mean bias = 1.8 min, 95% LoA = -9.6 to 13.3 min). The best-performing AG cut-point across both sitting and standing (<75 counts/15 s) was more accurate than the aP, underestimating sitting time (mean bias = -0.8 min, 95 % LoA = -10.5 to 9.9 min) and standing time (mean bias = -0.4 min, 95% LoA = -9.8 to 9.1 min), but was less precise as evidenced by wider LoAs and poorer correlations with DO (sitting r = 0.86 aP vs 0.80 AG; standing r = 0.78 aP vs 0.60 AG).

Conclusions: The aP demonstrated good accuracy and precision for assessing free-living sitting and standing time in classroom settings. The AG was most accurate using a cut-point of < 75 counts/15 s. Further studies should validate the monitors in settings with greater inter- and intra-individual variation in movement patterns.

Keywords: Accelerometry; Inclinometry; Sedentary; Youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation*
  • Accelerometry / methods
  • Accelerometry / standards*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schools
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Time Factors