Applicability of consumer activity monitor data in marathon events: an exploratory study

Valentino Constantinou*, Ashley E. Felber, Jennifer L. Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Emerging opportunities to measure individual and population-level health data with activity monitors during recreational running activities may set the stage for new research possibilities in mass participation running events and marathon medicine. This study explores the applicability of consumer activity monitor data in a preliminary study for future marathon health research with a cohort of 12 (n = 12) participants completing a 3.379 km walking or running course. This study explored the feasibility of collecting pace and distance data from Fitbit brand consumer activity monitors, from access to user data to reporting of data characteristics and data analysis. We show that a large percentage of participant data can be successfully retrieved from Fitbit consumer activity monitor devices for analysis in marathon health research, and that identifying variations in pace across participants is a practical possibility. We note a mean absolute percentage error of 13% over the true distance of 3.379 km, a higher error than that reported by other studies. We also observe a Pearson correlation coefficient between participant variation in pace and absolute distance error of 0.61. This study provides preliminary evidence to support the applicability of consumer activity monitor data in marathon health research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-540
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Engineering and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 3 2017



  • Running
  • information storage and retrieval
  • marathon
  • mass participation
  • reliability and validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering

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