Beyond the clinic : maximum free-living stepping as a potential measure of physical performance

Speirs, Craig and Dunlop, Mark D. and Roper, Marc and Granat, Malcolm (2023) Beyond the clinic : maximum free-living stepping as a potential measure of physical performance. Sensors, 23 (14). 6555. ISSN 1424-8220 (

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Measures of physical performance captured within a clinical setting are commonly used as a surrogate for underlying health or disease risk within an individual. By measuring physical behaviour within a free-living setting, we may be able to better quantify physical performance. In our study, we outline an approach to measure maximum free-living step count using a body-worn sensor as an indicator of physical performance. We then use this approach to characterise the maximum step count over a range of window durations within a population of older adults to identify a preferred duration over which to measure the maximum step count. We found that while almost all individuals (97%) undertook at least one instance of continuous stepping longer than two minutes, a sizeable minority of individuals (31%) had no periods of continuous stepping longer than six minutes. We suggest that the maximum step count measured over a six-minute period may be too sensitive to the adults’ lack of opportunity to undertake prolonged periods of stepping, and a two-minute window could provide a more representative measure of physical performance.