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Physical Activity Monitor Accuracy for Overground Walking and Free-Living Conditions Among Pregnant Women

Christopher P. Connolly, Jordana Dahmen, Robert D. Catena, Nigel Campbell, and Alexander H.K. Montoye

Purpose: We aimed to determine the step-count validity of commonly used physical activity monitors for pregnancy overground walking and during free-living conditions. Methods: Participants (n = 39, 12–38 weeks gestational age) completed six 100-step overground walking trials (three self-selected “normal pace”, three “brisk pace”) while wearing five physical activity monitors: Omron HJ-720 (OM), New Lifestyles 2000 (NL), Fitbit Flex (FF), ActiGraph Link (AG), and Modus StepWatch (SW). For each walking trial, monitor-recorded steps and criterion-measured steps were assessed. Participants also wore all activity monitors for an extended free-living period (72 hours), with the SW used as the criterion device. Mean absolute percent error (MAPE) was calculated for overground walking and free-living protocols and compared across monitors. Results: For overground walking, the OM, NL, and SW performed well (<5% MAPE) for normal and brisk pace walking trials, and also when trials were analyzed by actual speeds. The AG and FF had significantly greater MAPE for overground walking trials (11.9–14.7%). Trimester did affect device accuracy to some degree for the AG, FF, and SW, with error being lower in the third trimester compared to the second. For the free-living period, the OM, NL, AG, and FF significantly underestimated (>32% MAPE) actual steps taken per day as measured by the criterion SW (M [SD] = 9,350 [3,910]). MAPE for the OM was particularly high (45.3%). Conclusion: The OM, NL, and SW monitors are valid measures for overground step-counting during pregnancy walking. However, the OM and NL significantly underestimate steps by second and third trimester pregnant women in free-living conditions.