Accelerometer Data Collection and Processing Criteria to Assess Physical Activity and Other Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Practical Considerations

Sports Med. 2017 Sep;47(9):1821-1845. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0716-0.


Background: Accelerometers are widely used to measure sedentary time, physical activity, physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE), and sleep-related behaviors, with the ActiGraph being the most frequently used brand by researchers. However, data collection and processing criteria have evolved in a myriad of ways out of the need to answer unique research questions; as a result there is no consensus.

Objectives: The purpose of this review was to: (1) compile and classify existing studies assessing sedentary time, physical activity, energy expenditure, or sleep using the ActiGraph GT3X/+ through data collection and processing criteria to improve data comparability and (2) review data collection and processing criteria when using GT3X/+ and provide age-specific practical considerations based on the validation/calibration studies identified.

Methods: Two independent researchers conducted the search in PubMed and Web of Science. We included all original studies in which the GT3X/+ was used in laboratory, controlled, or free-living conditions published from 1 January 2010 to the 31 December 2015.

Results: The present systematic review provides key information about the following data collection and processing criteria: placement, sampling frequency, filter, epoch length, non-wear-time, what constitutes a valid day and a valid week, cut-points for sedentary time and physical activity intensity classification, and algorithms to estimate PAEE and sleep-related behaviors. The information is organized by age group, since criteria are usually age-specific.

Conclusion: This review will help researchers and practitioners to make better decisions before (i.e., device placement and sampling frequency) and after (i.e., data processing criteria) data collection using the GT3X/+ accelerometer, in order to obtain more valid and comparable data.

Prospero registration number: CRD42016039991.

Keywords: Indirect Calorimetry; Multivariate Adaptive Regression Spline; Physical Activity Intensity; Sedentary Time; Vigorous Physical Activity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry*
  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep / physiology