The Power of Wearables: Is it Time to Use Commercially Available Activity Tracker Data Retrospectively to Understand Population Physical Activity Patterns?

9 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2021

See all articles by Jacqueline Mair

Jacqueline Mair

Future Health Technologies, Singapore-ETH Centre, Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE), Singapore

Amy Campbell

University of the West of Scotland

Lawrence Hayes

University of the West of Scotland

Nicholas Sculthorpe

University of the West of Scotland

Date Written: January 26, 2021

Abstract

Researchers from around the world have been rapidly mobilised to study the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on health behaviours, including physical activity. However, due to the speed at which physical and social distancing restrictions have been imposed, it has been impossible to obtain large-scale, device-based, data in order to understand the effect of the pandemic on physical activity levels. This situation highlights the pressing need for accurate, remote, and scalable methods to not only monitor, but support PA behaviour in the wider population.

Existing data from wearable activity trackers could be the answer. These data can be obtained retrospectively to provide a clearer picture of the impact of the pandemic and could also be used more generally as a method to understand population-level physical activity levels. In this commentary we aim to highlight the potential benefits, as well as the limitations, of using existing data from wearable activity trackers to understand large-scale physical activity patterns and stimulate discussion amongst the scientific community on what the future holds with respect to physical activity measurement and surveillance.

Keywords: m-Health; quantified-self; big data; surveillance; wearables

Suggested Citation

Mair, Jacqueline and Campbell, Amy and Hayes, Lawrence and Sculthorpe, Nicholas, The Power of Wearables: Is it Time to Use Commercially Available Activity Tracker Data Retrospectively to Understand Population Physical Activity Patterns? (January 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3773475 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3773475

Jacqueline Mair (Contact Author)

Future Health Technologies, Singapore-ETH Centre, Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE), Singapore ( email )

Amy Campbell

University of the West of Scotland ( email )

Paisley High Street
PA1 2BE
Paisley, Scotland PA1 2BE
United Kingdom

Lawrence Hayes

University of the West of Scotland ( email )

Paisley High Street
PA1 2BE
Paisley, Scotland PA1 2BE
United Kingdom

Nicholas Sculthorpe

University of the West of Scotland ( email )

Paisley High Street
PA1 2BE
Paisley, Scotland PA1 2BE
United Kingdom

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