Activity mapping of children in play using multivariate analysis of movement events

Joana N. Rocha, Claire M. Barnes, Paul Rees, Cain T. Clark, Gareth Stratton, Huw D. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: (i) To develop an automated measurement technique for the assessment of both the form and intensity of physical activity undertaken by children during play. (ii) To profile the varying activity across a cohort of children using a multivariate analysis of their movement patterns.

METHODS: Ankle-worn accelerometers were used to record 40 min of activity during a school recess, for 24 children over five consecutive days. Activity events of 1.1 s duration were identified within the acceleration time trace and compared with a reference motif, consisting of a single walking stride acceleration trace, obtained on a treadmill operating at a speed of 4 km h. Dynamic time warping of motif and activity events provided metrics of comparative movement duration and intensity, which formed the data set for multivariate mapping of the cohort activity using a principal component analysis (PCA).

RESULTS: The two-dimensional PCA plot provided clear differentiation of children displaying diverse activity profiles and clustering of those with similar movement patterns. The first component of the PCA correlated to the integrated intensity of movement over the 40-min period, whereas the second component informed on the temporal phasing of activity.

CONCLUSIONS: By defining movement events and then quantifying them by reference to a motion-standard, meaningful assessment of highly varied activity within free play can be obtained. This allows detailed profiling of individual children's activity and provides an insight on social aspects of play through identification of matched activity time profiles for children participating in conjoined play.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Play and Playthings
  • Humans
  • Child Behavior/physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Male
  • Ankle
  • Female
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Accelerometry/instrumentation
  • Child
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Movement/physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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