The activPALTM Accurately Classifies Activity Intensity Categories in Healthy Adults

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 May;49(5):1022-1028. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001177.


The activPAL (AP) monitor is well established for distinguishing sitting, standing, and stepping time. However, its validity in predicting time in physical activity intensity categories in a free-living environment has not been determined.

Purpose: This study aimed to determine the validity of the AP in estimating time spent in sedentary, light, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a free-living environment.

Methods: Thirteen participants (mean ± SD age = 24.8 ± 5.2 yr, BMI = 23.8 ± 1.9 kg·m) were directly observed for three 10-h periods wearing an AP. A custom R program was developed and used to summarize detailed active and sedentary behavior variables from the AP. AP estimates were compared with direct observation.

Results: The AP accurately and precisely estimated time in activity intensity categories (bias [95% confidence interval]; sedentary = 0.8 min [-2.9 to 4.5], light = 1.7 min [2.2-5.7], and -2.6 min [-5.8 to 0.7]). The overall accuracy rate for time in intensity categories was 96.2%. The AP also accurately estimated guideline minutes, guideline bouts, prolonged sitting minutes, and prolonged sitting bouts.

Conclusion: The AP can be used to accurately capture individualized estimates of active and sedentary behavior variables in free-living settings.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posture / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult