Pedometer Cell Phone Applications and Future Trends in Measuring Physical Activity

Pedometer Cell Phone Applications and Future Trends in Measuring Physical Activity

Anna Åkerberg (Mälardalen University, Sweden), Maria Lindén (Mälardalen University, Sweden) and Mia Folke (Mälardalen University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3667-5.ch021
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A huge proportion of the world population is suffering from lifestyle related and preventable welfare diseases. Physical activity is one important means of achieving beneficial health impacts and of reducing the risk of chronic disease. Pedometers are often used to measure physical activity. Nowadays, cell phones are very common, and pedometer applications enable measurements to be made by a device that is already owned. This chapter presents a study of the measurement accuracy of pedometer cell phone applications. The results show that only one combination of pedometer application and cell phone provided high accuracy when tested by different test persons. In some cases, the measurements indicate that the orientation of the cell phone used during measurement might be relevant. In addition, it would be valuable to gain knowledge about the overall and everyday physical activity pattern, which would be very valuable in contributing to a healthier population.
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This section describes the background to this work and the topic of research. In addition to which, definitions are given of the concepts considered to be relevant for the discussion in this chapter.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined the word “health” in 1948 as follows; “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or disability” (WHO, 1998, p. 166).

Physical activity can be defined as any bodily movement produced by the muscles of the body that results in energy expenditure (Casperson, Powell & Christenson, 1985). The opposite, being totally physically inactive, can be defined as performing a very small degree of physical activity in daily life and is applicable to someone who is not engaged in any form of exercise or training activity (Folkhälsoinstitutet, 1999).

It is widely known that physical inactivity has a negative impact on health. In fact, physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of the major noncommunicable diseases, which include stroke, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer (ISPAH, 2010; WHO, 2004; EC, 2005), and contributes to the global burden of morbidity, disability and mortality (WHO, 2004).

Physical inactivity fundamentally contributes to direct and indirect health care expenses, in addition to which, it affects the quality of life and the productivity (ISPAH, 2010). In many countries the levels of physical inactivity are rising (WHO, 2010). Research shows that it is dangerous for health to have a sedentary lifestyle (Katzmarzyk, Church, Craig & Bouchard, 2009), and there is strong evidence that sedentary behaviors are directly related to the risk of obesity (Hu, Li, Colditz, Willett & Mansson, 2003; Chau, van der Ploeg, Merom, Chey & Bauman, 2012), diabetes (Hu et al., 2003) and cardiovascular disease (Jakes et al., 2003). Prolonged sitting, independent of physical activity, is a risk factor for all-cause of mortality (Van der Ploeg, Chey, Korda, Banks & Bauman, 2012). Research shows that avoiding sedentary behavior in adulthood prevents cardiovascular disease and increases the overall life expectancy (Franco et al., 2005).

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