Protocol - Total Physical Activity-Objective Measure

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An accelerometer is used to measure the intensity of movements continuously over a desirable study period (for a robust assessment of free-living physical activity, a minimum of 4 days is recommended; 7 days of continuous measurement is the most common). It is generally recommended to select the highest time resolution (or the shortest epoch) possible to last over the entire study period. Most current accelerometers have sufficient memory and battery capacity. The participant is asked to wear the accelerometer during all waking hours of the study period. Most monitors are not waterproof, and are not recommended for activities such as swimming and showering. An additional daily record of wearing the monitor can be taken to identify non-wearing time activity. Data are downloaded from the accelerometer after being retrieved from the participant. Although this is the current standard for objective physical activity measurements, more advanced sensor and processing technologies are rapidly evolving in this field to improve accuracy and expand usability.

Specific Instructions:
The hip placements of the accelerometer (on a belt) have been shown to yield the best prediction of energy expenditure. The absolute accuracy may vary with different accelerometers, placement locations, signal filters used by the devices, and models used for predicting energy expenditure or time spent in certain intensity categories. Follow manufacturers' operation manuals for installation, initialization, downloading and other specific procedures if needed.

Refer to Health ABC Study Operations Manual, Accelerometry Section.

Protocol Name from Source:


Publicly available

Personnel and Training Required
The individual who programs the accelerometer, collects the data from the participant, and downloads the data must be trained. The accelerometer's user manual must be used to complete the procedures properly.
Equipment Needs
Personal computer, accelerometers, download ports or readers (for some), battery chargers (for some) and replaceable batteries (for others).
Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Physical Measurement

Life Stage:

Child, Adolescent, Adult, Senior, Pregnancy


Ages 3+

Selection Rationale

There are several accelerometers that can measure physical activity, but the costs, accuracy, sensitivity, complexity, and research applicability vary widely. Several accelerometers have been shown to be applicable in heterogeneous subject populations. While the cost remains relatively high (around $350), they provide detailed physical activity data registered in good time resolutions (typically minute-by-minute or better). The intensity measures from the accelerometers closely represent energy expenditure, and with high data resolution, patterns of movements can also be studied. Accelerometers have low user burden (lightweight and small size, allowing multiple uses, and with rechargeable batteries), and data can be directly downloaded for research. The GT3X accelerometer (Actigraph) is used as an example of a typical accelerometer protocol.



Common Data Elements (CDE) Physical movements accelerometer measurement 3060825 CDE Browser
Derived Variables


Process and Review


National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Aging and National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney diseases. The Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study. Operations Manual. Accelerometry Section. 2009.

Pate, R. R., M. J. Almeida, et al. (2006). Validation and Calibration of an Accelerometer in Preschool Children. Obesity. 14(11): 2000-2006.

General References


Protocol ID:


Export Variables
Variable NameVariable IDVariable DescriptionVersiondbGaP Mapping
PX150801_Actigraph_Activity_Recorded PX150801180100 Was any activity collected and recorded on the ActiGraph? N/A
PX150801_Actigraph_Not_Returned PX150801150400 Did not return ActiGraph N/A
PX150801_Date_Returned_Day PX150801150200 Date participant returned ActiGraph to clinic (Day) N/A
PX150801_Date_Returned_Month PX150801150100 Date participant returned ActiGraph to clinic (Month) N/A
PX150801_Date_Returned_Year PX150801150300 Date participant returned ActiGraph to clinic (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Completed PX150801190000 Was the diary completed? N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_Date_Day PX150801290102 Today's Date (Day) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_Date_Month PX150801290101 Today's Date (Month) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_Date_Year PX150801290103 Today's Date (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_Day_Name PX150801290200 Day N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_EndTime_AMPM PX150801290703 End time (right before going to sleep) (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day1_EndTime_Hour PX150801290701 End time (right before going to sleep) (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day1_EndTime_Minutes PX150801290702 End time (right before going to sleep) (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day1_Start_Time_AMPM PX150801290303 Starting Time (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day1_Start_Time_Hour PX150801290301 Starting Time (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day1_Start_Time_Minute PX150801290302 Starting Time (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day1_TimeBackOn1_AMPM PX150801290603 Time put back on (AM or PM) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_TimeBackOn1_Hour PX150801290601 Time put back on (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_TimeBackOn1_Minutes PX150801290602 Time put back on (Minutes) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_TimeOff1_Activity PX150801290500 Activity while NOT wearing monitor N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_TimeOff1_AMPM PX150801290403 Time took off N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_TimeOff1_Hour PX150801290401 Time took off (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day1_TimeOff1_Minute PX150801290402 Time took off (Minute) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_Date_Day PX150801300102 Today's Date (Day) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_Date_Month PX150801300101 Today's Date (Month) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_Date_Year PX150801300103 Today's Date (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_Day_Name PX150801300200 Day N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_EndTime_AMPM PX150801300703 End time (right before going to sleep) (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day2_EndTime_Hour PX150801300701 End time (right before going to sleep) (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day2_EndTime_Minutes PX150801300702 End time (right before going to sleep) (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day2_Start_Time_AMPM PX150801300303 Starting Time (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day2_Start_Time_Hour PX150801300301 Starting Time (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day2_Start_Time_Minute PX150801300302 Starting Time (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day2_TimeBackOn1_AMPM PX150801300603 Time put back on (AM or PM) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_TimeBackOn1_Hour PX150801300601 Time put back on (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_TimeBackOn1_Minutes PX150801300602 Time put back on (Minutes) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_TimeOff1_Activity PX150801300500 Activity while NOT wearing monitor N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_TimeOff1_AMPM PX150801300403 Time took off N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_TimeOff1_Hour PX150801300401 Time took off (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day2_TimeOff1_Minute PX150801300402 Time took off (Minute) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_Date_Day PX150801310102 Today's Date (Day) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_Date_Month PX150801310101 Today's Date (Month) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_Date_Year PX150801310103 Today's Date (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_Day_Name PX150801310200 Day N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_EndTime_AMPM PX150801310703 End time (right before going to sleep) (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day3_EndTime_Hour PX150801310701 End time (right before going to sleep) (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day3_EndTime_Minutes PX150801310702 End time (right before going to sleep) (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day3_Start_Time_AMPM PX150801310303 Starting Time (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day3_Start_Time_Hour PX150801310301 Starting Time (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day3_Start_Time_Minute PX150801310302 Starting Time (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day3_TimeBackOn1_AMPM PX150801310603 Time put back on (AM or PM) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_TimeBackOn1_Hour PX150801310601 Time put back on (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_TimeBackOn1_Minutes PX150801310602 Time put back on (Minutes) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_TimeOff1_Activity PX150801310500 Activity while NOT wearing monitor N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_TimeOff1_AMPM PX150801310403 Time took off N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_TimeOff1_Hour PX150801310401 Time took off (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day3_TimeOff1_Minute PX150801310402 Time took off (Minute) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_Date_Day PX150801320102 Today's Date (Day) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_Date_Month PX150801320101 Today's Date (Month) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_Date_Year PX150801320103 Today's Date (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_Day_Name PX150801320200 Day N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_EndTime_AMPM PX150801320703 End time (right before going to sleep) (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day4_EndTime_Hour PX150801320701 End time (right before going to sleep) (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day4_EndTime_Minutes PX150801320702 End time (right before going to sleep) (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day4_Start_Time_AMPM PX150801320303 Starting Time (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day4_Start_Time_Hour PX150801320301 Starting Time (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day4_Start_Time_Minute PX150801320302 Starting Time (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day4_TimeBackOn1_AMPM PX150801320603 Time put back on (AM or PM) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_TimeBackOn1_Hour PX150801320601 Time put back on (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_TimeBackOn1_Minutes PX150801320602 Time put back on (Minutes) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_TimeOff1_Activity PX150801320500 Activity while NOT wearing monitor N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_TimeOff1_AMPM PX150801320403 Time took off N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_TimeOff1_Hour PX150801320401 Time took off (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day4_TimeOff1_Minute PX150801320402 Time took off (Minute) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_Date_Day PX150801330102 Today's Date (Day) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_Date_Month PX150801330101 Today's Date (Month) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_Date_Year PX150801330103 Today's Date (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_Day_Name PX150801330200 Day N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_EndTime_AMPM PX150801330703 End time (right before going to sleep) (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day5_EndTime_Hour PX150801330701 End time (right before going to sleep) (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day5_EndTime_Minutes PX150801330702 End time (right before going to sleep) (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day5_Start_Time_AMPM PX150801330303 Starting Time (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day5_Start_Time_Hour PX150801330301 Starting Time (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day5_Start_Time_Minute PX150801330302 Starting Time (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day5_TimeBackOn1_AMPM PX150801330603 Time put back on (AM or PM) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_TimeBackOn1_Hour PX150801330601 Time put back on (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_TimeBackOn1_Minutes PX150801330602 Time put back on (Minutes) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_TimeOff1_Activity PX150801330500 Activity while NOT wearing monitor N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_TimeOff1_AMPM PX150801330403 Time took off N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_TimeOff1_Hour PX150801330401 Time took off (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day5_TimeOff1_Minute PX150801330402 Time took off (Minute) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_Date_Day PX150801340102 Today's Date (Day) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_Date_Month PX150801340101 Today's Date (Month) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_Date_Year PX150801340103 Today's Date (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_Day_Name PX150801340200 Day N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_EndTime_AMPM PX150801340703 End time (right before going to sleep) (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day6_EndTime_Hour PX150801340701 End time (right before going to sleep) (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day6_EndTime_Minutes PX150801340702 End time (right before going to sleep) (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day6_Start_Time_AMPM PX150801340303 Starting Time (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day6_Start_Time_Hour PX150801340301 Starting Time (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day6_Start_Time_Minute PX150801340302 Starting Time (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day6_TimeBackOn1_AMPM PX150801340603 Time put back on (AM or PM) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_TimeBackOn1_Hour PX150801340601 Time put back on (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_TimeBackOn1_Minutes PX150801340602 Time put back on (Minutes) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_TimeOff1_Activity PX150801340500 Activity while NOT wearing monitor N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_TimeOff1_AMPM PX150801340403 Time took off N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_TimeOff1_Hour PX150801340401 Time took off (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day6_TimeOff1_Minute PX150801340402 Time took off (Minute) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_Date_Day PX150801350102 Today's Date (Day) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_Date_Month PX150801350101 Today's Date (Month) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_Date_Year PX150801350103 Today's Date (Year) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_Day_Name PX150801350200 Day N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_EndTime_AMPM PX150801350703 End time (right before going to sleep) (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day7_EndTime_Hour PX150801350701 End time (right before going to sleep) (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day7_EndTime_Minutes PX150801350702 End time (right before going to sleep) (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day7_Start_Time_AMPM PX150801350303 Starting Time (AM or PM) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day7_Start_Time_Hour PX150801350301 Starting Time (Hour) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day7_Start_Time_Minute PX150801350302 Starting Time (Minutes) Variable Mapping
PX150801_Diary_Day7_TimeBackOn1_AMPM PX150801350603 Time put back on (AM or PM) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_TimeBackOn1_Hour PX150801350601 Time put back on (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_TimeBackOn1_Minutes PX150801350602 Time put back on (Minutes) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_TimeOff1_Activity PX150801350500 Activity while NOT wearing monitor N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_TimeOff1_AMPM PX150801350403 Time took off N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_TimeOff1_Hour PX150801350401 Time took off (Hour) N/A
PX150801_Diary_Day7_TimeOff1_Minute PX150801350402 Time took off (Minute) N/A
PX150801_Number_Days_Actigraph_Worn PX150801160000 How many days was ActiGraph worn? N/A
PX150801_Number_Days_Actigraph_Worn_Valid PX150801170000 How many of the days that the ActiGraph was worn were valid? N/A
PX150801_Participant_First_Name PX150801010100 What is your... First Name? N/A
PX150801_Participant_Last_Name PX150801010300 What is your... Last Name? N/A
PX150801_Participant_Middle_Initial PX150801010200 What is your... Middle Initial? N/A
PX150801_Participant_Received_Actigraph PX150801020000 Did the participant receive an ActiGraph? N/A
PX150801_Participant_SerialNo PX150801020100 If answer is "Yes", please record the last four digits of serial number: N/A
PX150801_QA_ActiGraph_Distribution_Form PX150801120000 Fills out ActiGraph Distribution Form N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_7Day_Diary_Instructions PX150801090000 Procedure for completing 7-day activity diary explained to participant N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_Free-Living PX150801040000 ActiGraph set up for free-living N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_ID PX150801050000 Participant ID# entered at "Subject Name" prompt N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_Iliac_Crest_Placement PX150801080000 Actigraph placed as close to iliac crest as possible N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_Participant_Questions PX150801110000 Participant asked if they have any questions N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_Return_Procedure PX150801100000 Procedure for returning Actigraph explained to participant N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_Review_Form PX150801130000 Reviews forms for completeness N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_USB PX150801030000 ActiGraph is connected to USB cable N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_USB_Disconnected PX150801060000 ActiGraph disconnected from USB cable and "OK" clicked N/A
PX150801_QA_Distribution_Wearing_Instructions PX150801070000 Participant instructed about how to wear ActiGraph N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Data_Saved PX150801220000 Data saved properly N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Days_Recorded PX150801250000 Records how many days the ActiGraph was worn on ActiGraph Return and Reading Form N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Diary_Recorded PX150801270000 Records whether diary was completed partially, fully, or not at all on the ActiGraph Return and Reading Form N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Download_Button PX150801210000 Download button clicked on ActiWeb Client Software N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Enter_Activity_On_Computer PX150801240000 Correctly enters activities on computer N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Reviews_Forms PX150801280000 Reviews forms for completeness N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Review_Diary PX150801230000 Reviews activity diary to see if completely filled out, partially filled out, or not filled out at all N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_USB PX150801200000 ActiGraph properly connected to USB cable N/A
PX150801_QA_Return_Valid_Days_Recorded PX150801260000 Records how many valid days the ActiGraph was worn on ActiGraph Return and Reading Form N/A
PX150801_Reason_No_Activity_Recorded PX150801180200 Why wasn't any activity collected and recorded on the ActiGraph? (Please mark all that apply.) N/A
PX150801_Reason_No_Activity_Recorded_Specify PX150801180300 Completed if answer is "Other Specify" N/A
PX150801_Reason_Participant_NotReceive_Actigraph PX150801020200 Why didn't the participant receive an ActiGraph? N/A
PX150801_Reason_Participant_NotReceive_Actigraph_Other PX150801020202 Other (Please Specify) N/A
PX150801_Reason_Participant_NotReceive_Actigraph_PhysicalMedical PX150801020201 Physical/Medical Problem (Please Specify) N/A
Physical Activity and Physical Fitness
Measure Name:

Total Physical Activity-Objective Measure

Release Date:

May 12, 2010


Physical movements measured by accelerometer(s).


Recent physical activity patterns are a predictor of lifestyle, and individuals with sedentary lifestyles are at a greater risk for obesity and chronic disease.


Actigraph, Actigraphy, Accelerometer, Acceleration, Movement, Motion sensing, Epoch, Health ABC Study, Physical Activity, Activity Counts, Energy Expenditure, Activity Intensity, Physical Activity and Physical Fitness