The objective of this study was to assess the accuracy of using speed and grade data obtained from a low-cost global positioning system (GPS) receiver to estimate metabolic rate (MR) during level and uphill outdoor walking. Thirty young, healthy adults performed randomized outdoor walking for 6-min periods at 2.0, 3.5, and 5.0 km/h and on three different grades: 1) level walking, 2) uphill walking on a 3.7% mean grade, and 3) uphill walking on a 10.8% mean grade. The reference MR [metabolic equivalents (METs) and oxygen uptake (V̇o2)] values were obtained using a portable metabolic system. The speed and grade were obtained using a low-cost GPS receiver (1-Hz recording). The GPS grade (Δ altitude/distance walked) was calculated using both uncorrected GPS altitude data and GPS altitude data corrected with map projection software. The accuracy of predictions using reference speed and grade (actual[SPEED/GRADE]) data was high [R2 = 0.85, root-mean-square error (RMSE) = 0.68 MET]. The accuracy decreased when GPS speed and uncorrected grade (GPS[UNCORRECTED]) data were used, although it remained substantial (R2 = 0.66, RMSE = 1.00 MET). The accuracy was greatly improved when the GPS speed and corrected grade (GPS[CORRECTED]) data were used (R2 = 0.82, RMSE = 0.79 MET). Published predictive equations for walking MR were also cross-validated using actual or GPS speed and grade data when appropriate. The prediction accuracy was very close when either actual[SPEED/GRADE] values or GPS[CORRECTED] values (for level and uphill combined) or GPS speed values (for level walking only) were used. These results offer promising research and clinical applications related to the assessment of energy expenditure during free-living walking.
- wearable activity monitors
- energy expenditure
- global positioning system
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