Children’s physical activity and sedentary time compared using assessments of accelerometry counts and muscle activity level
Gao, Y., Melin, M., Mäkäräinen, K., Rantalainen, T., Pesola, A. J., Laukkanen, A., Sääkslahti, A., & Finni Juutinen, T. (2018). Children’s physical activity and sedentary time compared using assessments of accelerometry counts and muscle activity level. PeerJ, 6, Article e5437. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5437
© 2018 the Authors
Background This research compared accelerometry (ACC)-derived and muscle electromyography (EMG)-based estimates of physical activity (PA) and sedentary time in typical PA tasks and during the daily lives of children. Methods Data was included from two exploratory studies. In Study I, 6–7-year-old children (n = 11, 64% girls) were assessed for eight PA tasks (walking, stair negotiation, climbing, crawling, swinging, balancing, trampoline jumping and a game of tag). In Study II, 7–9-year-old children (n = 14, 38% girls) were assessed for six PA tasks (walking, sitting, static squat, single leg hops, jump for height and standing long jump), and daily PA during one day with and one day without structured exercise. Quadriceps and hamstring muscle activity and inactivity using EMG shorts and acceleration by waist-mounted accelerometer were simultaneously measured and classified as sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous activity. Data from ACC was further analyzed using five different published cut-off points and varying time windows (1−60 s) for comparison with EMG. Results In the PA tasks ACC counts and EMG amplitude showed marked differences in swinging, trampoline jumping, crawling, static squat, single leg hops, standing long jump and jump for height, the difference being over 170% when signals were normalized to that during walking. Furthermore, in walking, swinging, trampoline jumping, stair negotiation and crawling ACC classified over 60% of the time as vigorous-intensity activity, while EMG indicated primarily light- and moderate-intensity activities. During both days with and without exercise, ACC resulted in greater proportion of light activity (p < 0.01) and smaller proportion of moderate activity compared to EMG (p < 0.05). The choice of cut-off points and epoch length in ACC analysis influenced the classification of PA level and sedentary time. In the analysis of daily activities the cut-off points by Evenson et al. (2008) with epochs of 7.5 s and 15 s yielded the smallest difference (less than 10% of recording time at each intensity) against EMG-derived PA levels. Discussion This research provides novel insight on muscle activity and thereby on neuromuscular loading of major locomotor muscles during normal daily activities of children. While EMG and ACC provided similar estimates of sedentary time in 13 typical PA tasks, duration of light, moderate and vigorous PA varied considerably between the methods especially during walking, stair negotiation, crawling, swinging and trampoline jumping. Evenson et al.’s (2008) cut-off points with ≤15 s epoch provided similar classification of PA than EMG during daily life. Compared to impacts recorded using ACC, EMG can provide understanding on children’s neuromuscular loading during motor tasks that is useful when studying effects of PA interventions on, and development of, motor competence and coordination. ...
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- Liikuntatieteiden tiedekunta 
Related funder(s)Ministry of Education and Culture
Additional information about fundingThis study is funded by Ministry of Education and Culture (OKM/59/626/2016), Finland.
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