More than 50,000 UK Biobank participants have now returned their activity monitors – providing more than 8 million hours of detailed physical activity for researchers to get to grips with.
The landmark figure was crossed on Tuesday 4th November, putting the project well on track to collect 100,000 measurements.
Eight million hours is the equivalent of one activity monitor being worn for around 333,000 days – or one person’s activity for more than 900 years.
UK Biobank is enormously grateful to all those participants who have worn, or are wearing, their activity monitors and hopes that many of those participants still to be invited will accept the request.
Rob Gillions, the project manager, said: “We have been delighted with the response. The vast majority of activity monitors are being worn for the full seven days – we understand that is a huge commitment by participants and we are grateful to them for their support.”
Having agreed to take part, activity monitors are despatched to participants who are asked to put the device on as soon as it arrives. Seven days later they return it in the bag provided; data are downloaded, the devices are cleaned and then sent out to the next participant.
The idea is to capture a week’s worth of activity (and inactivity, including sleep) which will be studied alongside the wide range of other information provided by participants. Experts in the analysis of this raw data will use algorithms to turn it into useful research data about energy expenditure and patterns of activity.
Indeed, researchers are already starting to use the data. For instance, Dr Aiden Doherty at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, Oxford University, will explore the impact of active commuting (ie walking or cycling all or part of the journey between home and work) on heart disease.
UK Biobank’s Activity Working Group is led by Professor Nick Wareham of the University of Cambridge. The group is working hard to generate summary measures that will help in many areas of health research. The first of these summary measures should be available in the spring of 2015.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this fantastic achievement – just another 8 million hours to go!