Intensity Classification Accuracy of Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activities in Chinese Children and Youth

By Zhu, Zheng; Chen, Peijie et al. | Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Intensity Classification Accuracy of Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activities in Chinese Children and Youth


Zhu, Zheng, Chen, Peijie, Zhuang, Jie, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport


Purpose: Many ActiGraph accelerometer cutoff points and equations have been developed to classify children and youth's physical activity (PA) into different intensity levels. Using a sample from the Chinese City Children and Youth Physical Activity Study, this study was to develop new ActiGraph cutoff points for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA) for Chinese children and youth and to compare the classification accuracy to that of a set of existing cutoff points. Method: A total of 367 Chinese children and youth (179 boys, 188 girls, ages 9-17 years old) had their resting metabolic rate measured and completed six 5-min treadmill walking/running tests (tested at different speeds: 3 km x [h.sup.-1], 4 km x [h.sup.-1], 5 km x [h.sup.-1], 6 km x [h.sup.-l], 7 km x [h.sup.-1], and 8 km x [h.sup.-1]), one unit of the 3rd broadcast gymnastics (Version 3, Xi-Wang-Feng-Fan and Wu-Dong-Qing-Chun), and 2 sets of table tennis exercises (continuous attack and multiple balls). Participants wore 1 ActiGraph GT3X accelerometer on their right hip during each test, and their oxygen consumption and heart rate (HR) were measured using Cosmed K4[b.sup.2] and Polar HR transmitter. The participants were randomly divided into a calibration group (n = 331, 90%) and a cross-validation group (n = 36, 10%). Using the receiver-operating characteristic curve, the data from the calibration group were used to determine the cutoff points for MVPA and VPA. Using the data from the cross-validation group, classification accuracy of different cutoff points was evaluated through kappa statistics, sensitivity, and specificity. Results: A set of new cutoff points of counts per minute (CPM) was generated using the calibration data, and these cutoff points were proven to be more accurate compared with those developed in previous studies. Conclusion: When using ActiGraph accelerometers to measure the Chinese children and youth's PA, we recommended using the cutoff points of CPM [greater than or equal to] 2,800 to define MVPA and CPM [greater than or equal to] 4,000 for VPA.

Keywords: ActiGraph, heart rate, physical activity assessment, validation

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Studies have shown that physical activity (PA) may benefit children and youth by increasing their aerobic fitness, bone mineral density, muscle fitness, well-being, and cognitive function and by reducing obesity (Annesi, 2005; Ara et al., 2006; Barbeau et al., 2007; Boot, de Ridder, Pols, Krenning, & de Muinck Keizer-Schrama, 1997; Faigenbaum et al., 2007; Howie & Pate, 2012; McManus & Mellecker, 2012). Moreover, because several health outcomes related to PA tend to track from childhood into adulthood, PA is vital not only for children and youth's health during development, but also for their lifetime. A systematic review showed that (a) children and youth aged 5 to 17 years old should accumulate an average of at least 60 min to several hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA) daily; and (b) more vigorous physical activity (VPA) should be incorporated or added when possible (Janssen & Leblanc, 2010). Whether children and youth are meeting the recommended level of PA is crucial to their health.

To date, a variety of methods have been used to measure PA in children and youth, but each has its limitations. For example, self-report methods could be too subjective for young children because they cannot recall their activities well, and the doubly labeled water method, although very accurate, is too expensive and can only estimate the total energy expenditure (EE) in daily life but not in specific activities (Sallis, 1991; Sirard & Pate, 2001; Zhang, Pi-Sunyer, & Boozer, 2004). Accelerometer-based activity monitors have been proven to be valid and useful devices for the assessment of children and youth's PA, and the large memory capacity of accelerometers can been used to record several days or weeks of PA in children and youth (Freedson, Pober, & Janz, 2005; Puyau, Adolph, Vohra, & Butte, 2002). …

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