Objectively measure physical activity with an accelerometer

Dear All,

Last week (20-21 March), Anna Strömberg, Maria Bäck and me attended a course called “Objectively measure physical activity with an accelerometer.” This course was given by VerviVita, and was in Stockholm.

We all know the importance of physical activity. Most of the guidelines in disease management suggest that physical activity is important to increase quality of life and decrease hospital admission and depression. Also the World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of physical activity. Physical inactivity is the number 4 leading risk factor that attributes to death (see figure below).



For me the most interesting lectures during the course were from Maria Hagströmer (see picture below). She is a senior lecturer working at Karolinska Institute at the division of physiotherapy. To read more on the research she is involved in click here.


She discussed that physical activity is very broad. It includes household tasks, work, transport, fitness related activity and leisure time. Therefore it is very important at forehand to decide what you want part of physical activity you want to measure in your studies.



She also pointed out that it is still very hard to measure physical activity. Over the years the measurements for physical activity changed a lot. From self-reported physical activity questionnaires in the 60s, till wearables now (2010s).

With wearables you can objectively measure the amount of movements, but you still can’t know what the people exactly did. Also it can’t track all activities, for example riding a bike. Because there are a lot of different kinds of measuring physical activity, it is very hard to compare results given in research today. It is important to decide on a measurement, so in the future comparisons in physical activity can be made.

In the course, we learned how to practically handle an activity monitor called Actigraph. They explained how this device is measuring physical activity and how to handle the data you receive.

We all got inspired on how to include data on physical activity in our research and planned to have a follow-up meeting how to handle the data in the HF-Wii study.

Kind regards,