Utility of the Actiheart Accelerometer for Estimating Exercise Energy Expenditure in Female Adolescent Runners

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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There is a growing need to accurately assess exercise energy expenditure (EEE) in athletic populations that may be at risk for health disorders because of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. The Actiheart combines heart rate and uniaxial accelerometry to estimate energy expenditure above rest. The authors’ purpose was to determine the utility of the Actiheart for predicting EEE in female adolescent runners (N = 39, age 15.7 ± 1.1 yr). EEE was measured by indirect calorimetry and predicted by the Actiheart during three 8-min stages of treadmill running at individualized velocities corresponding to each runner’s training, including recovery, tempo, and 5-km-race pace. Repeated-measures ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc comparisons across the 3 running stages indicated that the Actiheart was sensitive to changes in intensity (p < .01), but accelerometer output tended to plateau at race pace. Pairwise comparisons of the mean difference between Actiheart- and criterion-measured EEE yielded values of 0.0436, 0.0539, and 0.0753 kcal · kg−1 · min−1 during recovery, tempo, and race pace, respectively (p < .0001). Bland–Altman plots indicated that the Actiheart consistently underestimated EEE except in 1 runner’s recovery bout. A linear mixed-model regression analysis with height as a covariate provided an improved EEE prediction model, with the overall standard error of the estimate for the 3 speeds reduced to 0.0101 kcal · kg−1 · min−1. Using the manufacturer’s equation that combines heart rate and uniaxial motion, the Actiheart may have limited use in accurately assessing EEE, and therefore energy availability, in young, female competitive runners.

Nichols, Stalker-Fader, and Rauh are with the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Aralis is with the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA. Garcia Merino is with the Faculty of Physical Activities and Sport Sciences, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. Barrack is with the Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA.