Introducing novel approaches for examining the variability of individuals' physical activity

Alex V. Rowlands, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Catrine Tudor-Locke, David R. Bassett, Minsoo Kang, François Fraysse, Barbara Ainsworth, Tim S. Olds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Tudor-Locke and colleagues previously assessed steps/day for 1 year. The aim of this study was to use this data set to introduce a novel approach for the investigation of whether individual's physical activity exhibits periodicity fluctuating round a mean and, if so, the degree of fluctuation and whether the mean changes over time. Twenty-three participants wore a pedometer for 365 days, recorded steps/day and whether the day was a workday. Fourier transform of each participant's daily steps data showed the physical activity had a periodicity of 7 days in half of the participants, matching the periodicity of the workday pattern. Activity level remained stable in half of the participants, decreased in ten participants and increased in two. In conclusion, the 7-day periodicity of activity in half of the participants and correspondence with the workday pattern suggest a social or environmental influence. The novel analytical approach introduced herein allows the determination of the periodicity of activity, the degree of variability in activity that is tolerated during day-to-day life and whether the activity level is stable. Results from the use of these methodologies in larger data sets may enable a more focused approach to the design of interventions that aim to increase activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-466
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of sports sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015


  • FFT
  • pedometer
  • periodicity
  • season

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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