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Open AccessArticle

Validity of Wrist-Worn Activity Trackers for Estimating VO2max and Energy Expenditure

Professorship of Sport Equipment and Materials, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Munich, Boltzmannstraße 15, D-85747 Garching, Germany
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3037; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173037
Received: 10 July 2019 / Revised: 20 August 2019 / Accepted: 21 August 2019 / Published: 22 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Activity and Healthy Lifestyle)
Activity trackers are a simple and mostly low-priced method to capture physiological parameters. Despite the high number of wrist-worn devices, there is a lack of scientific validation. The purpose of this study was to assess whether the activity trackers represent a valid alternative to gold-standard methods in terms of estimating energy expenditure (EE) and maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). Twenty-four healthy subjects participated in this study. In total, five commercially available wrist-worn devices were tested with regard to their validity of EE and/or VO2max. Estimated values were compared with indirect calorimetry. Validity of the activity trackers was determined by paired sample t-tests, mean absolute percentage errors (MAPE), Intraclass Correlation Coefficient, and Bland-Altman plots. Within the tested devices, differences in scattering in VO2max and EE could be observed. This results in a MAPE > 10% for all evaluations, except for the VO2max-estimation of the Garmin Forerunner 920XT (7.3%). The latter significantly underestimates the VO2max (t(23) = –2.37, p = 0.027), whereas the Garmin Vivosmart HR significantly overestimates the EE (t(23) = 2.44, p = 0.023). The tested devices did not show valid results concerning the estimation of VO2max and EE. Hence, the current wrist-worn activity trackers are most likely not accurate enough to be used for neither purposes in sports, nor in health care applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: consumer wearable devices; validation; accuracy; sports watches; fitness trackers; monitoring; physical activity consumer wearable devices; validation; accuracy; sports watches; fitness trackers; monitoring; physical activity
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Passler, S.; Bohrer, J.; Blöchinger, L.; Senner, V. Validity of Wrist-Worn Activity Trackers for Estimating VO2max and Energy Expenditure. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3037.

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