Complexity of daily physical activity is more sensitive than conventional metrics to assess functional change in younger older adults

Wei Zhang*, Michael Schwenk, Sabato Mellone, Anisoara Paraschiv-Ionescu, Beatrix Vereijken, Mirjam Pijnappels, A. Stefanie Mikolaizak, Elisabeth Boulton, Nini H. Jonkman, Andrea B. Maier, Jochen Klenk, Jorunn Helbostad, Kristin Taraldsen, Kamiar Aminian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The emerging mHealth applications, incorporating wearable sensors, enables continuous monitoring of physical activity (PA). This study aimed at analyzing the relevance of a multivariate complexity metric in assessment of functional change in younger older adults. Thirty individuals (60–70 years old) participated in a 4-week home-based exercise intervention. The Community Balance and Mobility Scale (CBMS) was used for clinical assessment of the participants’ functional balance and mobility performance pre-and post-intervention. Accelerometers worn on the low back were used to register PA of one week before and in the third week of the intervention. Changes in conventional univariate PA metrics (percentage of walking and sedentary time, step counts, mean cadence) and complexity were compared to the change as measured by the CBMS. Statistical analyses (21 participants) showed significant rank correlation between the change as measured by complexity and CBMS (ρ = 0.47, p = 0.03). Smoothing the activity output improved the correlation (ρ = 0.58, p = 0.01). In contrast, change in univariate PA metrics did not show correlations. These findings demonstrate the high potential of the complexity metric being useful and more sensitive than conventional PA metrics for assessing functional changes in younger older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2032
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Early online date25 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


Funding: This research was funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme grant number 689238.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme288940
Horizon 2020689238


    • Exercise intervention
    • Functional decline
    • Longitudinal study
    • Multivariate analysis
    • Wearable sensors


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