Methodological considerations in using accelerometers to assess habitual physical activity in children aged 0-5 years

Child Obesity Research Centre, University of Wollongong, Australia.
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (Impact Factor: 3.19). 02/2009; 12(5):557-67. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2008.10.008
Source: PubMed


This paper reviews the evidence behind the methodological decisions accelerometer users make when assessing habitual physical activity in children aged 0-5 years. The purpose of the review is to outline an evidence-guided protocol for using accelerometry in young children and to identify gaps in the evidence base where further investigation is required. Studies evaluating accelerometry methodologies in young children were reviewed in two age groups (0-2 years and 3-5 years) to examine: (i) which accelerometer should be used, (ii) where the accelerometer should be placed, (iii) which epoch should be used, (iv) how many days of monitoring are required, (v) how many minutes of monitoring per day are required, (vi) how data should be reduced, (vii) which cut-point definitions for identifying activity intensity should be used, and (viii) which physical activity outcomes should be reported and how. Critique of the available evidence provided a basis for the development of a recommended users protocol in 3-5-year olds, although several issues require further research. Because of the absence of methodological studies in children under 3 years, a protocol for the use of accelerometers in this age range could not be specified. Formative studies examining the utility, feasibility and validity of accelerometer-based physical activity assessments are required in children under 3 years of age. Recommendations for further research are outlined, based on the above findings, which, if undertaken, will enhance the accuracy of accelerometer-based assessments of habitual physical activity in young children.

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    • "Accelerometers can provide objective estimates of the amount of time children usually spend sedentary and in light PA (LPA) and MVPA. Accelerometer measurements are valid, reliable, and feasible for quantifying PA at all intensities in preschool-aged children (i.e., ages 36–59 months) (Adolph et al. 2012; Cliff et al. 2009; Pate et al. 2006; Pfeiffer et al. 2006). In studies assessing the validity of accelerometers in children less than 36 months of age, 2 demonstrated that accelerometers can accurately distinguish sedentary time from LPA in this age group (Costa et al. 2014; Van Cauwenberghe et al. 2011), and another demonstrated valid estimates of MVPA when compared with direct observation of PA (Trost et al. 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of the study was to describe objectively measured physical activity (PA) and sedentary time of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and determine the proportion meeting Canadian age-specific PA guidelines. Ninety children (47 girls, 43 boys; mean age 32 (range, 4-70) months) attending scheduled health supervision visits and in the TARGet Kids! (The Applied Research Group for Kids) cohort wore an Actical accelerometer for 7 days. Participants with 4 or more valid days were included in the analysis. Time, in mean minutes per day (min/day), spent sedentary and in light PA, moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA), and total PA was determined using published cut-points; age groups were compared using ANOVA. Twenty-three percent of children <18 months (n = 28) and 76% of children aged 18-59 months (n = 45) met the guideline of 180 min/day of total PA; 13% of children ≥60 months (n = 17) met the guideline of 60 min/day of MVPA. Children <18 months spent more of their waking time per day engaged in sedentary behaviours (79%; ∼7.3 h) compared with children aged 18-59 months (63%; ∼6.6 h) and children ≥60 months (58%; ∼6.6 h). In conclusion, most children aged 18-59 months met the Canadian PA guidelines for children aged 0-4 years, whereas few younger than 18 months met the same guidelines. Only 13% of children ≥5 years met their age-specific PA guidelines. Further research is needed to develop, test, and implement effective strategies to promote PA and reduce sedentary behaviour in very young children.
    Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 09/2015; 40(12). DOI:10.1139/apnm-2015-0164 · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    • "The accelerometer collects data known as activity Bcounts^ measured in time sampling intervals or epochs (Cliff et al. 2009). Measurements with the Actigraph accelerometer have been found to be valid, and reliable in children aged 3–5 years (Cliff et al. 2009 "
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    ABSTRACT: Research suggests that integrating human movement into a cognitive learning task can be effective for learning due to its cognitive and physiological effects. In this study, the learning effects of enacting words through whole-body movements (i.e., physical exercise) and part-body movements (i.e., gestures) were investigated in a foreign language vocabulary task. Participants were 111 preschool children of 15 childcare centres, who were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. Participants had to learn 14 Italian words in a 4-week teaching program. They were tested on their memory for the words during, directly after, and 6 weeks after the program. In the integrated physical exercise condition, children enacted the actions indicated by the words to be learned in physical exercises. In the non-integrated physical exercise condition children performed physical exercises at the same intensity, but unrelated to the learning task. In the gesturing condition, children enacted the actions indicated by the words to be learned by gesturing while remaining seated. In the conventional condition, children verbally repeated the words while remaining seated. Results confirmed the main hypothesis, indicating that children in the integrated physical exercise condition achieved the highest learning outcomes. Implications of integrated physical exercise programs for preschool children’s cognition and health are discussed.
    Educational Psychology Review 08/2015; 27(3). DOI:10.1007/s10648-015-9337-z · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    • "The use of objective measures of physical activity have been well established and it has been widely reported that the interpretation of data depends on several methodological decisions made before and after data collection (Cain, Sallis, Conway, Van Dyck, & Calhoon, 2013; Cliff, Reilly, & Okely, 2009; Ridgers & Fairclough, 2011). More recently, researchers have started to focus on objectively measured sedentary behavior (Atkin et al., 2013a; Healy et al., 2008; Mitchell, Pate, Beets, & Nader, 2012a; Mitchell et al., 2012b). "
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    ABSTRACT: The use of objective measures of sedentary behavior has increased over the past decade; however, as is the case for objectively measured physical activity, methodological decisions before and after data collection are likely to influence the outcomes. The aim of this article is to review the evidence on different methodological decisions made by researchers when examining sedentary behavior. The different issues researchers may encounter when measuring sedentary behavior have been divided into (a) activity monitor placement; (b) epochs, cut points, and non-wear time definitions; (c) criteria for sedentary behavior bouts and breaks; and (d) combining motion and posture data. This article recommends that (a) activity monitors should be placed on the thigh and combined with a data reduction approach that estimates inclination, especially in children and adults; and (b) researchers should clearly report their data processing decisions to enhance the ability to evaluate and compare studies in the future. However, the article also highlights a dearth of methodological evidence to inform the use of objective measures of sedentary behavior. Based on the gaps in the literature, research recommendations, which require addressing to develop a best practice protocol when measuring sedentary behavior objectively, have been made.
    Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science 07/2015; 19(3):116-124. DOI:10.1080/1091367X.2015.1045908
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