Combining global positioning system and accelerometer data to determine the locations of physical activity in children

  • Nicolas M. Oreskovic | noreskovic@partners.org MGH Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy, Boston, MA; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
  • Jeff Blossom Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis, Cambridge, MA, United States.
  • Alison E. Field Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston, MA, United States.
  • Sylvia R. Chiang Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, United States.
  • Jonathan P. Winickoff MGH Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy, Boston, MA; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
  • Ronald E. Kleinman Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.

Abstract

National trends indicate that children and adolescents are not achieving sufficient levels of physical activity. Combining global positioning system (GPS) technology with accelerometers has the potential to provide an objective determination in locations where youth engage in physical activity. The aim of this study was to identify the optimal methods for collecting combined accelerometer and GPS data in youth, to best locate where children spend time and are physically active. A convenience sample of 24 mid-school children in Massachusetts was included. Accelerometers and GPS units were used to quantify and locate childhood physical activity over 5 weekdays and 2 weekend days. Accelerometer and GPS data were joined by time and mapped with a geographical information system (GIS) using ArcGIS software. Data were collected in winter, spring, summer in 2009-2010, collecting a total of 26,406 matched datapoints overall. Matched data yield was low (19.1% total), regardless of season (winter, 12.8%; spring, 30.1%; summer, 14.3%). Teacher-provided, pre-charged equipment yielded the most matched (30.1%; range: 10.1-52.3%) and greatest average days (6.1 days) of data. Across all seasons, children spent most of their time at home. Outdoor use patterns appeared to vary by season, with street use increasing in spring, and park and playground use increasing in summer. Children spent equal amounts of physical activity time at home and walking in the streets. Overall, the various methods for combining GPS and accelerometer data provided similarly low amounts of combined data. No combined GPS and accelerometer data collection method proved superior in every data return category, but use of GIS to map joined accelerometer and GPS data can demarcate childhood physical activity locations.

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Published
2012-05-01
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Original Articles
Keywords:
physical activity, built environment, adolescence, global positioning system, geographical information system, USA.
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How to Cite
Oreskovic, N. M., Blossom, J., Field, A. E., Chiang, S. R., Winickoff, J. P., & Kleinman, R. E. (2012). Combining global positioning system and accelerometer data to determine the locations of physical activity in children. Geospatial Health, 6(2), 263-272. https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2012.144