Accelerometer Data Collection and Processing Criteria to Assess Physical Activity and Other Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Practical Considerations

  • Published on March 16, 2017

Background: Accelerometers are widely used to measure sedentary time, physical activity, physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE), and sleep-related behaviors, with the ActiGraph being the most frequently used brand by researchers. However, data collection and processing criteria have evolved in a myriad of ways out of the need to answer unique research questions; as a result there is no consensus.

Objectives: The purpose of this review was to: (1) compile and classify existing studies assessing sedentary time, physical activity, energy expenditure, or sleep using the ActiGraph GT3X/? through data collection and processing criteria to improve data comparability and (2) review data collection and processing criteria when using GT3X/? and provide age-specific practical considerations based on the validation/calibration studies identified.

Methods: Two independent researchers conducted the search in PubMed and Web of Science. We included all original studies in which the GT3X/? was used in laboratory, controlled, or free-living conditions published from 1 January 2010 to the 31 December 2015.

Results: The present systematic review provides key information about the following data collection and processing criteria: placement, sampling frequency, filter, epoch length, non-wear-time, what constitutes a valid day and a valid week, cut-points for sedentary time and physical activity intensity classification, and algorithms to estimate PAEE and sleep-related behaviors. The information is organized by age group, since criteria are usually age-specific.

Conclusion: This review will help researchers and practitioners to make better decisions before (i.e., device placement and sampling frequency) and after (i.e., data processing criteria) data collection using the GT3X/? accelerometer, in order to obtain more valid and comparable data.


  • Jairo H. Migueles 1
  • Cristina Cadenas-Sanchez 1
  • Ulf Ekelund 2,3
  • Christine Delisle Nystrom 4
  • Jose Mora-Gonzalez 1
  • Marie Lo¨f 4,5
  • Idoia Labayen 6
  • Jonatan R. Ruiz 1,4
  • Francisco B. Ortega 1,4


PROFITH ‘‘PROmoting FITness and Health through physical activity’’ Research Group, Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Ctra. Alfacar s/n, 18011 Granada, Spain
Department of Sport Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital Hills Road, Cambridge, UK
Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of the Health Sciences, Linko¨ping University, Linko¨ping, Sweden
Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of the Basque Country, UPV-EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain


Sports Medicine


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