Wearable Sensor Technology to Measure Physical Activity (PA) in the Elderly

  • Ashwini K. RaoEmail author
Neurology of Aging (KS Marder, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neurology of Aging


Purpose of Review

The goal of this paper is to provide a review of recent work on the use of wearable devices for measuring physical activity (PA) in the elderly.

Recent Findings

In older adults, PA is related to independence in activities of daily living and maintaining a good quality of life. With aging, there is a reduction in PA, which may explain reduced energy expenditure (EE) during rest and PA. In addition, there is also a reduction in the spatial extent of mobility (life-space). Sensors used for measuring PA include pedometers, uni-axial, bi-axial and tri-axial accelerometers, heart rate monitors combined with accelerometers, and complex systems using multiple types of sensors.


Wearable sensors are accurate at measuring step counts, PA intensity, and EE, but need to improve accuracy of measuring type of PA, spatial extent of PA, and measuring non-ambulatory PA. Clear standards for measurement, algorithms used for computing clinically relevant measures, need to be developed.


Aging Wearables Sensors PA Energy expenditure Gait 



This work was partially supported by the US National Science Foundation under grant SCH-1838725.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ashwini Rao declares no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine (Program in Physical Therapy), G.H. Sergievsky Center, Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence, Center of Excellence in Alzheimer’s Disease, Vagelos College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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