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Performance of thigh-mounted triaxial accelerometer algorithms in objective quantification of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in older adults

Wullems, JA and Verschueren, SMP and Degens, H and Morse, CI and Onambélé, GL (2017) Performance of thigh-mounted triaxial accelerometer algorithms in objective quantification of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in older adults. PLoS ONE, 12 (11). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

© 2017 Wullems et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Accurate monitoring of sedentary behaviour and physical activity is key to investigate their exact role in healthy ageing. To date, accelerometers using cut-off point models are most preferred for this, however, machine learning seems a highly promising future alternative. Hence, the current study compared between cut-off point and machine learning algorithms, for optimal quantification of sedentary behaviour and physical activity intensities in the elderly. Thus, in a heterogeneous sample of forty participants (aged ≥60 years, 50% female) energy expenditure during laboratory-based activities (ranging from sedentary behaviour through to moderate-to-vigorous physical activity) was estimated by indirect calorimetry, whilst wearing triaxial thigh-mounted accelerometers. Three cut-off point algorithms and a Random Forest machine learning model were developed and cross-validated using the collected data. Detailed analyses were performed to check algorithm robustness, and examine and benchmark both overall and participant-specific balanced accuracies. This revealed that the four models can at least be used to confidently monitor sedentary behaviour and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Nevertheless, the machine learning algorithm outperformed the cut-off point models by being robust for all individual’s physiological and non-physiological characteristics and showing more performance of an acceptable level over the whole range of physical activity intensities. Therefore, we propose that Random Forest machine learning may be optimal for objective assessment of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in older adults using thigh-mounted triaxial accelerometry.

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