Measuring physical strain during ambulation with acceleration

I. Hartgerink, J. B.J. Bussmann*, L. H.V. Van Der Woude, H. J. Stam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To study the feasibility of ambulatory accelerometry in the evaluation of physical strain in walking at different speeds and different levels of economy. Methods: Twelve able-bodied subjects performed a walking test on a treadmill with increasing walking speed. After a 6-wk period, these measurements were repeated, with an additional test of perturbed walking. Motility (the intensity of body segment movements, measured with accelerometry), heart rate, and oxygen uptake were simultaneously recorded. Feasibility was determined by comparing motility with percentage heart rate reserve (%HRR), using oxygen uptake (VO2) as reference. The relation with oxygen uptake, the sensitivity to change when walking speed increased and gait was perturbed, and intrasubject and intersubject variability were studied. Results: Walking with increasing walking speed resulted in a higher pooled r2 value (0.91) and a lower residual standard deviation (1.44 mL· kg-1·min-1) for the motility-VO2 relation than for the %HRR-VO2 relation (0.84 and 1.92 mL·kg-1·min-1, respectively). Furthermore, the motility-VO2 relation for this part of the protocol showed lowest interindividual differences. The sensitivity to changes due to an increase in walking speed, and the test-retest reliability were the highest for motility. Walking with a brace resulted in a lower pooled r2 value for the motility-VO2 relation than for the %HRR-VO2 relation (0.31 and 0.67, respectively); the sensitivity to changes due to walking with a brace was lower for motility than for %HRR. Conclusion: Compared with heart rate, accelerometry allows accurate measurement with little error in any able-bodied individual, without the need for individual calibration. The response of motility to changes and differences in economy in patients requires further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1462-1471
Number of pages10
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000


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