Usefulness of Accelerometers for Assessing Physical Activity

Accelerometers are tools kinesiologists and exercise physiologists use to objectively monitor physical activity in individuals. This has generally been done with children and younger people with little attention given to older adults. A group of researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta used accelerometers on 38 participants (15 males, 18 females) aged between 66 and 72 years to come up with a profile of older adult physical activity levels. They found that average time spent in light activity was the same for both males and females (just under 14 hours) but women spent less time being sedentary (7.4 hrs vs. 8.9 hrs). They also determined that the number of minutes spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity was greater in men (75 min vs. 60 min), however, the number of minutes spent in sporadic activity (bouts of under 10 minutes) was about the same (approx. 50 minutes).

Short bouts (10-19 min) and longer bouts (>20 minutes) have previously been shown to have the best cardio-vascular health benefits. For both genders, longer bouts of activity occurred in the morning and in general, more time spent in low-intensity physical activity increased with age. Thus, the researchers concluded that interventions targeted at older adults should be aimed at increasing time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity and decreasing time spent being sedentary.

To your health,



Copeland, J.L., Esliger, D.W. (2009). Accelerometer Assessment of Physical Activity in Active, Healthy Older Adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 17(1), 17-30.

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