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Physical activity levels in adults and elderly from triaxial and uniaxial accelerometry. The Tromsø Study.

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Ekelund, Ulf 
Pedersen, Sigurd 
Brage, Søren 
Hansen, Bjørge H 


INTRODUCTION: Surveillance of physical activity at the population level increases the knowledge on levels and trends of physical activity, which may support public health initiatives to promote physical activity. Physical activity assessed by accelerometry is challenged by varying data processing procedures, which influences the outcome. We aimed to describe the levels and prevalence estimates of physical activity, and to examine how triaxial and uniaxial accelerometry data influences these estimates, in a large population-based cohort of Norwegian adults. METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 5918 women and men aged 40-84 years who participated in the seventh wave of the Tromsø Study (2015-16). The participants wore an ActiGraph wGT3X-BT accelerometer attached to the hip for 24 hours per day over seven consecutive days. Accelerometry variables were expressed as volume (counts·minute-1 and steps·day-1) and as minutes per day in sedentary, light physical activity and moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA). RESULTS: From triaxial accelerometry data, 22% (95% confidence interval (CI): 21-23%) of the participants fulfilled the current global recommendations for physical activity (≥150 minutes of MVPA per week in ≥10-minute bouts), while 70% (95% CI: 69-71%) accumulated ≥150 minutes of non-bouted MVPA per week. When analysing uniaxial data, 18% fulfilled the current recommendations (i.e. 20% difference compared with triaxial data), and 55% (95% CI: 53-56%) accumulated ≥150 minutes of non-bouted MVPA per week. We observed approximately 100 less minutes of sedentary time and 90 minutes more of light physical activity from triaxial data compared with uniaxial data (p<0.001). CONCLUSION: The prevalence estimates of sufficiently active adults and elderly are more than three times higher (22% vs. 70%) when comparing triaxial bouted and non-bouted MVPA. Physical activity estimates are highly dependent on accelerometry data processing criteria and on different definitions of physical activity recommendations, which may influence prevalence estimates and tracking of physical activity patterns over time.



Accelerometry, Age Distribution, Aged, Cross-Sectional Studies, Exercise, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Norway, Sedentary Behavior, Wearable Electronic Devices

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PLoS One

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/3)
National Institute for Health and Care Research (IS-BRC-1215-20014)