Validity of the Polar M430 Activity Monitor in Free-Living Conditions: Validation Study
AuthorHenriksen, André; Grimsgaard, Sameline; Horsch, Alexander; Hartvigsen, Gunnar; Hopstock, Laila Arnesdatter
Objective: We aimed to assess the criterion validity of the Polar M430 sport watch, compared with 2 research-grade instruments (ActiGraph and Actiheart), worn on 4 different locations using 1- and 3-axis accelerometers.
Methods: A total of 50 participants wore 2 ActiGraphs (wrist and hip), 2 Actihearts (upper and lower chest position), and 1 Polar M430 sport watch for 1 full day. We compared reported time (minutes) spent in sedentary behavior and in light, moderate, vigorous, and moderate to vigorous PA, step counts, activity energy expenditure, and total energy expenditure between devices. We used Pearson correlations, intraclass correlations, mean absolute percentage errors (MAPEs), and Bland-Altman plots to assess criterion validity.
Results: Pearson correlations between the Polar M430 and all research-grade instruments were moderate or stronger for vigorous PA (r range .59-.76), moderate to vigorous PA (r range .51-.75), steps (r range .85-.87), total energy expenditure (r range .88-.94), and activity energy expenditure (r range .74-.79). Bland-Altman plots showed higher agreement for higher intensities of PA. MAPE was high for most outcomes. Only total energy expenditure measured by the hip-worn ActiGraph and both Actiheart positions had acceptable or close to acceptable errors with MAPEs of 6.94% (ActiGraph, 3 axes), 8.26% (ActiGraph, 1 axis), 14.54% (Actiheart, upper position), and 14.37% (Actiheart, lower position). The wrist-worn ActiGraph had a MAPE of 15.94% for measuring steps. All other outcomes had a MAPE of 22% or higher. For most outcomes, the Polar M430 was most strongly correlated with the hip-worn triaxial ActiGraph, with a moderate or strong Pearson correlation for sedentary behavior (r=.52) and for light (r=.7), moderate (r=.57), vigorous (r=.76), and moderate to vigorous (r=.75) PA. In addition, correlations were strong or very strong for activity energy expenditure (r=.75), steps (r=.85), and total energy expenditure (r=.91).
Conclusions: The Polar M430 can potentially be used as an addition to established research-grade instruments to collect some PA variables over a prolonged period. However, due to the high MAPE of most outcomes, only total energy expenditure can be trusted to provide close to valid results. Depending on the variable, the Polar M430 over- or underreported most metrics, and may therefore be better suited to report changes in PA over time for some outcomes, rather than as an accurate instrument for PA status in a population.