Last updated Sep 4, 2013
What does the activity monitor measure?
The activity monitor records information about the duration, frequency and intensity of all kinds of activity (from sleeping to vigorous physical activity). It does this by measuring acceleration in three directions (up/down; forwards/backwards; and left/right). For those familiar with Wii TV-based games, it works like the Wii controller handset in picking up changes in movement. Scientists will be able to determine how active a person has been based on the information collected by the activity monitor.
How long do I have to wear it?
The activity monitor should be worn continuously for 7 days. Do not worry if that week is not typical for you (e.g. you are doing more or less physical activity than normal). Please start wearing it as soon as possible after it arrives through the post (preferably on the same day). It should be worn on the wrist of the hand that you usually use to write (i.e. your right wrist if you are right-handed). The letter that comes with the device will state when you should stop wearing the device and return it to us.
On which wrist should I wear it?
It is preferable if you wear the activity monitor on the wrist of the hand that you usually use to write (i.e. your right wrist if you are right-handed). Generally this will be most convenient for people since it is typical to wear a watch on the other wrist. But, if for some reason you cannot wear the activity monitor on the wrist of the hand that you use to write then please wear it on the other wrist.
How will I know if it is working?
The activity monitor is set up to turn itself on soon after arrival and to turn itself off after 7 days. As it is completely silent, you will not be able to tell that it is running.
What is the monitor made of, and might it cause an allergic reaction on my wrist?
UK Biobank’s activity monitor is made of molded thermoplastic. The strap is hypoallergenic. There are no health risks associated with wearing an activity monitor.
Do I need to wear it for 7 days in a row or can it be any 7 days?
The activity monitor has been set up to turn itself on automatically just after it arrives with you and to run for the next 7 days before turning itself off. So, in order to record the most information about your activity, it needs to be put on soon after it arrives and to be worn continuously until the date given in the letter that accompanies the device, when it will turn itself off.
I was away for a few days when the monitor arrived. Is it still worth wearing it?
Yes, provided it is still before the date for returning the device that is given in the letter that came with it. The monitor will stop automatically on that date. If it is now after that date then please return the device with a note saying that you would like us to send you another one to wear.
Can I take it off during the 7-day period?
It is better if you wear the activity monitor all of the time throughout the 7-day period. This will ensure that it provides more complete information about the duration, frequency and intensity of your activity. It is robust and water-proof, and has been designed to be worn when working or sleeping, having a bath or shower, or playing all types of sport (including swimming). But, if you need to take the monitor off for some reason then you can put it back on later.
Is there anywhere that I cannot wear the activity monitor?
The device is robust and water-proof. It can be worn when having a bath or shower and when doing manual work or playing sport (including swimming). Extremes of temperature may damage the battery so it should be taken off while you have a sauna. If you require any advice, please telephone us free of charge on 0800-0-276-276 (Mon-Sat; 8:00am-7:00pm).
My job does not allow me to wear accessories: can I still take part?
Yes. Please remove the activity monitor if you are required to do so for work, but don’t forget to put it back on again afterwards. (It is robust and waterproof so it can be worn during heavy manual work.)
Can I take the activity monitor with me when I go on holiday?
Yes. Put the monitor on your wrist and forget about it. It will switch itself off after 7 days and you can then take it off. But please do not forget to return it to us when you get home.
Can I wear the monitor for longer than a week?
The monitor is set up to turn itself off after 7 days. The date when this occurs is given in the letter that comes with the device. Please return it to us as soon as possible after that date in the stamped addressed FREEPOST envelope provided.
What should I do if I lose the activity monitor or it breaks?
Don’t worry. If the device gets broken just return it to us in the envelope provided. We should be able to retrieve the information that has already been collected. Depending how long you had worn the device, we may offer to send you a replacement. If you lose the device then please let us know by telephoning us free of charge on 0800-0-276-276 (Mon-Sat; 8:00am-7:00pm) or by emailing us via the website feedback form.
How secure is the information on the monitor; suppose it gets lost in the mail?
The confidentiality of information about participants is at the heart of everything UK Biobank does. The activity monitor does not contain any information that could identify you directly. A special code number on each device is matched with your “participant ID number”, and the key to this code is known only to a small number of UK Biobank staff. Your personal details and data about your health and lifestyle are stored separately. Other security mechanisms are also used to protect your privacy.
How do I return the activity monitor?
Please mail the device back to us as soon as possible after the date that the letter that came with it indicates it will turn itself off. All you need to do is put it into the stamped addressed padded envelope provided, seal the envelope and put it in a post box. The cost of postage is already paid.
What should I do if I cannot find the return envelope?
Don’t worry. You can return the activity monitor to us in a standard envelope (though a padded envelope would be better). There is no need to pay the postage if you use our FREEPOST address:
Cardiff, CF14 4YS
Many thanks for your help. If you require any advice or further information, please telephone us on 0800 0 276 276 Monday-Saturday 8am-7pm (free from most land lines) or call 02920 765597.