Uni- and triaxial accelerometric signals agree during daily routine, but show differences between sports.
Accelerometers objectively monitor physical activity, and ongoing research suggests they can also detect patterns of body movement. However, different types of signal (uniaxial, captured by older studies, vs. the newer triaxial) and or/device (validated Actigraph used by older studies, vs. others) may lead to incomparability of results from different time periods. Standardization is desirable. We establish whether uniaxial signals adequately monitor routine activity, and whether triaxial accelerometry can detect sport-specific variations in movement pattern. 1402 adolescents wore triaxial Actigraphs (GT3X) for one week and diaried sport. Uni- and triaxial counts per minute were compared across the week and between over 30 different sports. Across the whole recording period 95% of variance in triaxial counts was explained by the vertical axis (5th percentile for R2, 91%). Sport made up a small fraction of daily routine, but differences were visible: even when total acceleration was comparable, little was vertical in horizontal movements, such as ice skating (uniaxial counts 41% of triaxial) compared to complex movements (taekwondo, 55%) or ambulation (soccer, 69%). Triaxial accelerometry captured differences in movement pattern between sports, but so little time was spent in sport that, across the whole day, uni- and triaxial signals correlated closely. This indicates that, with certain limitations, uniaxial accelerometric measures of routine activity from older studies can be feasibly compared to triaxial measures from newer studies. Comparison of new studies based on raw accelerations to older studies based on proprietary devices and measures (epochs, counts) will require additional efforts which are not addressed in this paper