Accelerometers are used to quantify energy expenditure in field research. The ActiGraph™
GT1M (ActiGraph™) is a commonly used accelerometer for research. The FitBit® Ultra (FitBit®) is a low-cost alternative
to the ActiGraph™; however, there is limited research on the validity of this device.
The pilot study compares the FitBit® against the ActiGraph™ and metabolic cart for measurement of energy
expenditure and step counts during treadmill walking.
Thirty-two (25 female) adults, mean age 22±2 years, performed two thirty-minute phases of walking (slow and
brisk) on a treadmill while concurrently wearing the FitBit® and the ActiGraph™. Energy expenditure estimates were
compared against energy expenditure measured by a metabolic cart. The Pearson’s correlation and t-tests determine the
linear association and similarity between the accelerometers.
Energy expenditure estimate is moderately correlated between the two accelerometers during slow walking
(r=0.584, p=0.011) and strongly correlated during brisk walking (r=0.910, p<0.001). Step count is strongly correlated
between the accelerometers during slow (r=0.974, p<0.001) and brisk (r=0.996, p<0.001) walking. The FitBit®
significantly underestimated energy expenditure during brisk walking compared to metabolic cart data. There is no
difference between the slow and brisk phases’ step counts using either accelerometer.
The results of this pilot study suggest that the FitBit® and the ActiGraph™ can be used interchangeably to
measure steps, but not to measure kilocalories. Furthermore, the FitBit® underestimates energy expenditure, compared to a
metabolic cart, as exercise intensity increases. This limits its ability to accurately measure energy expenditure in active