Validation of Fitbit-Flex as a measure of free-living physical activity in a community-based phase III cardiac rehabilitation population

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Abstract

Background:

Accurate physical activity monitoring is important for cardiac patients. Novel activity monitoring devices may enable precise measurement of physical activity. This study aimed to validate Fitbit-Flex against Actigraph accelerometer for monitoring physical activity.

Design:

A validation study with a comparative design.

Methods:

Cardiac patients and family members participating in community-based exercise programs wore Fitbit-Flex and Actigraph simultaneously over four days to monitor daily step counts and minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA).

Results:

Participants (N = 48) comprised 52.1% males, with a mean age of 65.6 ± 6.9 years and 58.9% had a cardiac diagnosis. Fitbit-Flex and Actigraph were significantly correlated in males, females, total participants and cardiac patients for step counts (r = .96; r = .95; r = .95; r = .95), though less so for MVPA (r = .81; r = .65, r = .74; r = .71). As step counts increased the differences between Fitbit-Flex and Actigraph also increased. Fitbit-Flex over-estimated step counts in females (556 steps/day), males (1462 steps/day) and total participants (1038 steps/day) as well as for minutes of MVPA in females (4 min/day), males (15 min/day) and total participants (10 min/day). Fitbit-Flex had high sensitivity and specificity in classifying participants who achieved the recommended physical activity guidelines.

Conclusion:

Fitbit-Flex is accurate in assessing attainment of physical activity guideline recommendations and is useful for monitoring physical activity in cardiac patients. The device does, however, slightly over-estimate step counts and MVPA.

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