Although high intensity physical activities may represent a great proportion of the total energy expenditure in active people, only sparse studies have investigated the accuracy of wearable monitors to assess activity related energy expenditure (AEE) during high intensity exercises. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the accuracy of the Actiheart, a light portable monitor estimating AEE based on heart rate (HR) and activity counts (ACT), during two popular activities (running and cycling) performed at high intensities. The benefit of an individual calibration of the HR-AEE relationship established during a preliminary maximal test was also evaluated.
AEE was estimated in eighteen active adults (4 women and 14 men; 25 ± 4 yr) with indirect calorimetry using a respiratory gas analysis system (reference method) and the Actiheart during 5-min running and cycling at 60, 75 and 85% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) previously determined during a maximal test performed on a treadmill or cycle ergometer. For the Actiheart, AEE was estimated either using the group or individual calibrated equations available in the dedicated software, and their respective HR, ACT or combined HR/ACT algorithms.
When the HR algorithm was used for cycling and the HR or HR/ACT algorithms for running, AEE measured by the Actiheart increased proportionally to exercise intensity from 60 to 85% VO2max (P<0.001). Compared to indirect calorimetry, the Actiheart group calibrated equations slightly to moderately underestimated (3 to 20%) AEE for the three exercise intensities (P<0.001). Accuracy of AEE estimation was greatly improved by individual calibration of the HR-AEE relationship (underestimation below 5% and intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC]: 0.79–0.93) compared to group calibration (ICC: 0.64–0.79).
The Actiheart enables to assess AEE during high intensity running and cycling when the appropriate algorithm is applied. Since an underestimation was present for group calibration, an individual and sport-specific calibration should be performed when a high accuracy is required.