Accelerometry Data in Health Research: Challenges and Opportunities: Review and Examples

Marta Karas, Jiawei Bai, Marcin Strączkiewicz, Jaroslaw Harezlak, Nancy W. Glynn, Tamara Harris, Vadim Zipunnikov, Ciprian Crainiceanu, Jacek K. Urbanek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Wearable accelerometers provide detailed, objective, and continuous measurements of physical activity (PA). Recent advances in technology and the decreasing cost of wearable devices led to an explosion in the popularity of wearable technology in health research. An ever-increasing number of studies collect high-throughput, sub-second level raw acceleration data. In this paper, we discuss problems related to the collection and analysis of raw accelerometry data and refer to published solutions. In particular, we describe the size and complexity of the data, the within- and between-subject variability, and the effects of sensor location on the body. We also discuss challenges related to sampling frequency, device calibration, data labeling, and multiple PA monitors synchronization. We illustrate these points using the Developmental Epidemiological Cohort Study (DECOS), which collected raw accelerometry data on individuals both in a controlled and the free-living environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-237
Number of pages28
JournalStatistics in Biosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019


  • Accelerometers
  • Accelerometry
  • Physical activity
  • Wearable accelerometers
  • Wearable computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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