Validity of traditional physical activity intensity calibration methods and the feasibility of self-paced walking and running on individualised calibration of physical activity intensity in children

Eero Haapala, Ying Gao, Anssi Oskari Vanhala, Timo Rantalainen, Taija Finni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


There are no practical and valid methods for the assessment of individualised physical activity (PA) intensity in observational studies. Therefore, we investigated the validity of commonly used metabolic equivalent of tasks (METs) and predetermined PA intensity classification methods against individualised PA intensity classification in 35 children 7–11-years-of-age. Then, we studied validity of mean amplitude deviation (MAD) measured by accelerometry during self-paced walking and running in assessment of individualised PA intensity. Individualised moderate PA (MPA) was defined as V̇O2 ≥ 40% of V̇O2reserve and V̇O2 < ventilatory threshold (VT) and vigorous PA (VPA) as V̇O2 ≥ VT. We classified > 3–6 (or alternatively > 4–7) METs as MPA and > 6 (> 7) METs as VPA. Task intensities were classified according to previous calibration studies. MET-categories correctly identified 25.9–83.3% of light PA, 85.9–90.3% of MPA, and 56.7–82.2% of VPA. Task-specific categories correctly classified 53.7% of light PA, 90.6% of MPA, and 57.8% of VPA. MAD during self-paced walking discriminated MVPA from light PA (sensitivity = 67.4, specificity = 88.0) and MAD during self-paced running discriminated VPA from MPA (sensitivity = 78.8, specificity = 79.3). In conclusion, commonly used methods may misclassify PA intensity in children. MAD during self-paced running may provide a novel and practical method for determining individualised VPA intensity in children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11031
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 315 Sport and fitness sciences

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