Date of this Version
Koehler K and Drenowatz C (2017)
In order to monitor their energy requirements, athletes may desire to assess energy expenditure (EE) during training and competition. Recent technological advances and increased customer interest have created a market for wearable devices that measure physiological variables and bodily movement over prolonged time periods and convert this information into EE data. This mini-review provides an overview of the applicability of the SenseWear armband (SWA), which combines accelerometry with measurements of heat production and skin conductivity, to measure total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and its components such as exercise energy expenditure (ExEE) in athletic populations. While the SWA has been shown to provide valid estimates of EE in the general population, validation studies in athletic populations indicate a tendency toward underestimation of ExEE particularly during high-intensity exercise (>10 METs) with an increasing underestimation as exercise intensity increases. Although limited information is available on the accuracy of the SWA during resistance exercise, high-intensity interval exercise, or mixed exercise forms, there seems to be a similar trend of underestimating high levels of ExEE. The SWA, however, is capable of detecting movement patterns and metabolic measurements even at high exercise intensities, suggesting that underestimation may result from limitations in the proprietary algorithms. In addition, the SWA has been used in the assessment of sleep quantity and quality as well as non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Overall, the SWA provides viable information and remains to be used in various clinical and athletic settings, despite the termination of its commercial sale.