The purpose of this study was to classify, and model various physical activities performed by a diverse group of participants in a supervised lab-based protocol and utilize the model to identify physical activity in a free-living setting. Wrist-worn accelerometer data were collected from (N = 152) adult participants; age 18–64 years, and processed the data to identify and model unique physical activities performed by the participants in controlled settings. The Gaussian mixture model (GMM) and the hidden Markov model (HMM) algorithms were used to model the physical activities with time and frequency-based accelerometer features. An overall model accuracy of 92.7% and 94.7% were achieved to classify 24 physical activities using GMM and HMM, respectively. The most accurate model was then used to identify physical activities performed by 20 participants, each recorded for two free-living sessions of approximately six hours each. The free-living activity intensities were estimated with 80% accuracy and showed the dominance of stationary and light intensity activities in 36 out of 40 recorded sessions. This work proposes a novel activity recognition process to identify unsupervised free-living activities using lab-based classification models. In summary, this study contributes to the use of wearable sensors to identify physical activities and estimate energy expenditure in free-living settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3893
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 12 2018


  • Free-living
  • GENEactiv accelerometer
  • Gaussian mixture model
  • Hidden Markov model
  • Machine learning
  • Physical activity classification
  • Wavelets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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