Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are testing the accuracy of commercially-available fitness trackers when worn by children.
Young children differ greatly from adults in their energy usage. They are less efficient because they lack coordination, and because their resting metabolic rate is, on average, twice that of an adult. They can produce energy quickly, but also become worn out faster than an adult would.
Although activity trackers are more often used by adults wishing to keep track of fitness goals, they could be valuable in monitoring the health of children with physical conditions such as cerebral palsy (CP). Trackers could help parents ensure that their children are getting enough exercise and sleep, and provide information that could guide rehabilitation or physical therapy regimes.
The QUT team is comparing data from commercially-available fitness trackers with that from multiple scientific movement sensors. Their subjects – 30 children ages 3-5 – will wear the trackers and sensors during 20 minutes of play. They will also be videotaped, so that the researchers can verify periods of activity.
Researcher Matthew Ahmadi described preparing the children for the study:
“We put movement sensors on their wrists, ankles, and hips, along with a mask that tracks their breathing rate, and put two commercial activity trackers on them, and tell them they look like Iron Man or a superhero. So far that tactic is working – they really seem to enjoy it!”
Another member of the team, Dr. Denise Brookes, is currently recruiting participants for a similar study on the use of activity trackers in adults with cerebral palsy.
To learn more about the activity tracker research group and their goals, click here.