International Journal of Exercise Science 13(4): 438-454, 2020. Collecting objective physical activity data from research participants are increasingly done using consumer-based activity trackers. Several validation studies of Polar devices are conducted to date, but no systematic review of the current level of accuracy for these devices exist. The aim of this study is therefore to investigate the accuracy of current wrist-worn Polar devices that equips a triaxial accelerometer to measure physical activity. We conducted a systematic review by searching six databases for validation studies on modern Polar activity trackers. Studies were grouped and examined by tested outcome, i.e. energy expenditure, physical activity intensity, and steps. We summarized and reported relevant metrics from each study. The initial search resulted in 157 studies, out of which fourteen studies were included in the final review. Energy expenditure was reviewed in seven studies, physical activity intensity was reviewed in four studies, and steps was reviewed in 11 studies. There is a large difference in study protocols with conflicting results between the identified studies. However, for energy expenditure there is some indication that Polar devices perform better in free-living, compared to lab-based studies. In addition, step counting seems to have less average error compared to energy expenditure and physical activity intensity. There is large heterogeneity between the identified studies, both in terms of study protocols and results, and the accuracy of Polar devices remains unclear. More studies are needed for more recently developed devices, and future studies should take care to follow guidelines for assessment of wearable sensors designed for physical activity monitoring.
Henriksen, André; Johansson, Jonas; Hartvigsen, Gunnar; Grimsgaard, Sameline; and Hopstock, Laila A.
"Measuring Physical Activity Using Triaxial Wrist Worn Polar Activity Trackers: A Systematic Review,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 13
4, Pages 438 - 454.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol13/iss4/9