Evaluation of an activity monitor for use in pregnancy to help reduce excessive gestational weight gain

Paul M.C. Lemmens, Francesco Sartor, Lieke G.E. Cox, Sebastiaan V. den Boer, Joyce H.D.M. Westerink

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Background: Excessive weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk for negative effects on mother and child during pregnancy, delivery, and also postnatally. Excessive weight gain can be partially compensated by being sufficiently physically active, which can be measured using activity trackers. Modern activity trackers often use accelerometer data as well as heart rate data to estimate energy expenditure. Because pregnancy affects the metabolism and cardiac output, it is not evident that activity trackers that are calibrated to the general population can be reliably used during pregnancy. We evaluated whether an activity monitor designed for the general population is sufficiently accurate for estimating energy expenditure in pregnant women. Methods: Forty pregnant women (age: 30.8 ± 4.7 years, BMI: 25.0 ± 4.0) from all three trimesters performed a 1-h protocol including paced and self-paced exercise activities as well as household activities. We tracked reference energy expenditure using indirect calorimetry and used equivalence testing to determine whether the estimated energy expenditure from the activity monitor was within the limits of equivalence. Results: Overall we found an averaged underestimation of 10 kcal (estimated energy expenditure was 97% of the reference measurement). The 90% CI for the cumulative total energy expenditure was 94-100%. The activities of self-paced cycling, household activities, stair-walking, and yoga had one of their equivalence boundaries outside a 80-125% range of equivalence; for exercise on a cross-trainer, for self-paced and fixed-pace walking, fixed-paced cycling, and resting, the estimations were within the limits of equivalence. Conclusions: We conclude that the activity monitor is sufficiently accurate for every-day use during pregnancy. The observed deviations can be accounted for and are acceptable from a statistical and an applied perspective because the positive and negative deviations that we observed cancel out to an accurate average energy expenditure over a day, and estimations during exercise are sufficiently accurate to enable coaching on physical activity. The positive and negative deviations themselves were relatively small. Therefore, the activity monitor can be used to help in preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy by accurately tracking physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number312
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2018


  • Accelerometer
  • Activity monitor
  • Energy expenditure
  • Heart rate
  • MET
  • Validation
  • Accelerometry/methods
  • Calorimetry, Indirect/methods
  • Humans
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Dimensional Measurement Accuracy
  • Monitoring, Physiologic/methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Overweight/diagnosis
  • Walking/physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Pregnant Women/psychology
  • Yoga/psychology
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • Gestational Weight Gain/physiology


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