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Alexander Allan Wetten, Marijka Batterham, Sze Yen Tan and Linda Tapsell


With physical inactivity inextricably linked to the increasing prevalence of obesity, there is a need for validated methods that measure free-living energy expenditure (EE) within sedentary environments. While accelerometers enable these measurements, few studies have compared device accuracy in such settings. The aim of this study was to investigate the relative validity of the Actigraph, RT3 and SenseWear Armband (SWA).


Twenty-three (11 male, 12 female) participants (age: 25.3 ± 6.3 yr; BMI: 22.6 ± 2.7) wore 3 accelerometers at designated sites during a 4-hour stay in the Whole Room Calorimeter (WRC). Participants performed 2 10-minute bouts of light-intensity exercise (stepping and stationary cycling) and engaged in unstructured sedentary activities. EE estimated by accelerometers was compared with WRC EE derived from measurements of gaseous exchange.


The Actigraph and SWA both accurately estimated EE during the stepping exercise. EE estimated by the RT3 during stepping was significantly lower than the WRC value (31.2% ± 15.6%, P < .001). All accelerometers underestimated cycling and unstructured activity EE over the trial period (P < .001).


The Actigraph and SWA are both valid tools for quantifying EE during light-intensity stepping. These results provide further valuable information on how accelerometer devices may be appropriately used.