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In order to effectively measure the physical activity of children, objective monitoring devices must be able to quantify the intermittent and nonlinear movement of free play. The purpose of this study was to investigate the validity of the Computer Science and Applications (CSA) uniaxial accelerometer and the TriTrac-R3D triaxial accelerometer with respect to their ability to measure 8 "free-play" activities of different intensity. The activities ranged from light to very vigorous in intensity and included activities such as throwing and catching, hopscotch, and basketball. Twenty-eight children, ages 9 to 11, wore a CSA and a heart rate monitor while performing the activities. Sixteen children also wore a Tritrac. Counts from the CSA, Tritrac, and heart rates corresponding to the last 3 min of the 5 min spent at each activity were averaged and used in correlation analyses. Across all 8 activities, Tritrac counts were significantly correlated with predicted MET level (r=0.69) and heart rate (r=0.73). Correlations between CSA output, predicted MET level (0.43), and heart rate (0.64) were also significant but were lower than those observed for the Tritrac. These data indicate that accelerometers are an appropriate methodology for measuring children's free-play physical activities.

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