Wearable-device-measured physical activity and future health risk

Tessa Strain, Katrien Wijndaele, Paddy C. Dempsey, Stephen J. Sharp, Matthew Pearce, Justin Jeon, Tim Lindsay, Nick Wareham, Søren Brage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Use of wearable devices that monitor physical activity is projected to increase more than fivefold per half-decade1. We investigated how device-based physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) and different intensity profiles were associated with all-cause mortality. We used a network harmonization approach to map dominant-wrist acceleration to PAEE in 96,476 UK Biobank participants (mean age 62 years, 56% female). We also calculated the fraction of PAEE accumulated from moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA). Over the median 3.1-year follow-up period (302,526 person-years), 732 deaths were recorded. Higher PAEE was associated with a lower hazard of all-cause mortality for a constant fraction of MVPA (for example, 21% (95% confidence interval 4–35%) lower hazard for 20 versus 15 kJ kg−1 d−1 PAEE with 10% from MVPA). Similarly, a higher MVPA fraction was associated with a lower hazard when PAEE remained constant (for example, 30% (8–47%) lower hazard when 20% versus 10% of a fixed 15 kJ kg−1 d−1 PAEE volume was from MVPA). Our results show that higher volumes of PAEE are associated with reduced mortality rates, and achieving the same volume through higher-intensity activity is associated with greater reductions than through lower-intensity activity. The linkage of device-measured activity to energy expenditure creates a framework for using wearables for personalized prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385-1391
Number of pages7
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the participants of the UK Biobank study and those who collected and managed the data. This work was conducted under UK Biobank application number 20684. T.S., K.W., S.B., S.J.S., T.L., P.C.D., M.P., J.J. and N.W. are supported by the UK Medical Research Council (unit program numbers MC_UU_12015/1 and MC_UU_12015/3). P.C.D. is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia research fellowship (no. 1142685). T.L. is supported by the Cambridge Trust and St Catharine’s College.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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