Research Study Abstract

Assessing Physical Activity in Persons with Rheumatoid Arthritis Using Accelerometry

  • Published on August 2010

Purpose: To empirically investigate if the nonwear threshold and the ‘valid day’ definition for accelerometer data from the general adult US population are appropriate for accelerometer data from persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: This study analyzed data from 107 persons with RA participating in the baseline (2006-2008) accelerometer assessment from two studies with common inclusion/exclusion criteria. We examined candidate nonwear thresholds ranging from 20 to 300 minutes of zero activity count. The effect of the selected nonwear threshold is examined in regard to 1) mean daily activity counts, 2) activity counts per wear hour, 3) mean daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) according to count thresholds that occur in 10 minute bouts, and 4) MVPA bout minutes per wear hour. The effect of ranging the definition of a valid day of accelerometer data from 8 hours of wear time to 12 hours on data retention was also examined.

Results: In 737 days of accelerometer data analyzed, the average daily wear hours increased with length of nonwear threshold of allowed continuous zero activity count minutes. The mean number of nonzero activity count minutes increased with the chosen nonwear threshold until it stabilized at 478 minutes per day of activity, which corresponded to the 90 minute nonwear threshold. Choosing this threshold and requiring at least 10 hours of wear time to constitute a valid day was associated with 92.8% of days of collected data defined as ‘valid’.

Conclusion: Data supported increasing the allowed nonwear threshold in this RA subpopulation from 60 to 90 minutes, while retaining the 10 hour day as the measure of the ‘valid day’.


  • Pamela Semanik, PhD APN 1
  • Jing Song, MS 2
  • Rowland W. Chang, MD, MPH 1, 3
  • Larry Manheim, PhD 2
  • Barbara Ainsworth, PhD MPH 4
  • Dorothy Dunlop, PhD 2


  • 1

    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL

  • 2

    Institute for Healthcare Studies, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL

  • 3

    Departments of Preventive Medicine & Medicine (Rheumatology), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL

  • 4

    College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI), Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise