Deriving personalised physical activity intensity thresholds by merging accelerometry with field-based walking tests: Implications for pulmonary rehabilitation.

01 Jan 2022


During pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), patients receive individually tailored walking exercise training. The personalised nature of exercise prescription is a fundamental component of PR. Despite this, the measurement of physical activity (PA) has been limited to a 'one size fits all' approach and can be challenging to translate into clinically meaningful or real-world units, such as cadence. This discrepancy may partly explain the inconsistent evidence for the impact of PR on PA. It may also provide an opportunity to standardise PA assessment in the context of chronic respiratory disease (CRD) and PR, where field-based walking tests are routine measures. This technical note provides an example of how to develop personalised PA intensity thresholds, calibrated against an individual's performance on the Incremental Shuttle Walking Test (ISWT; maximal) and Endurance Shuttle Walk Test (ESWT; sub-maximal). These are externally paced tests, with each level (speed) of the tests denoting a specific speed (intensity); ranging 1.8 km/h (ISWT Level 1) to 8.5 km/h (ISWT Level 12). From the ESWT, it becomes possible to evaluate adherence to each individual's walking exercise prescription. Future research should explore this approach and its responsiveness to PR. It may be possible to extend this methodology with the inclusion of physiological parameters (e.g., heart rate, calorimetry, and oxygen consumption) to derive relative intensity markers (e.g. moderate-to-vigorous), accounting for individual differences in exercise capacity, under the same paradigm as PR exercise prescription.

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Resource information

Respiratory topics
  • Disease management
  • Risk factor: physical activity
  • Treatment - non-drug
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Pina I, Ndagire P, Katagira W, Latimer L, Zatloukal J, Kirenga B, Singh SJ, Orme MW