Comparability of activPAL-based estimates of meeting physical activity guidelines for preschool children

Wendy Y J Huang*, Eun Young Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    The activPAL (PAL Technologies, Glasgow, UK) has been increasingly used on children to assess sedentary time and physical activity (PA). However, there is no consensus on how it can estimate PA at different intensities. This study compared three commonly used, activPAL‐based classifications of moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (daily steps, acceleration counts, and step rate) in determining compliance with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s PA guidelines for preschool children on a daily basis. One hundred and fourteen preschool children aged 3–6 years wore an activPAL™ for 24 hours over 7 consecutive days and provided valid data for a total of 548 days. MVPA was calculated based on published cut‐points of counts (MVPA-counts) and step rate (MVPA‐step rate). Compliance with standard PA guidelines (≥180 min/day of PA including ≥60 min/day of MVPA) was determined based on three criteria: ≥11,500 steps/day, a threshold of 1418 acceleration counts/15 s, and 25 steps/15 s for MVPA. Applying cut‐points of daily steps and acceleration counts provided the same estimates of compliance with the WHO PA guidelines (20%), while the estimated compliance based on the step rate was lower (7.7%). There was a moderate agreement between the daily steps‐ (or counts‐) derived and step rate‐derived compliances (κ = 0.41; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.31, 0.51). The amount of MVPA derived from counts (1.95 ± 0.72 hour/day) was significantly higher than that from step rates (0.47 ± 0.31 hour/day). The activPAL may be useful for surveillance studies to estimate total PA in preschool children. Further development of the activPAL algorithms based on either counts or step rate is warranted before it can be used to accurately estimate MVPA in this age group.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number5146
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number24
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

    User-Defined Keywords

    • ActivPAL
    • Physical activity
    • Young children


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