Using Hexoskin Wearable Technology to Obtain Body Metrics During Trail Hiking

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International Journal of Exercise Science 8(4): 425-430, 2015. Use of wearable technology to obtain various body metrics appears to be a trending phenomenon. However there is very little literature supporting the notion that these apparatuses can be used for research purposes in the field. The purpose of this study was to utilize Hexoskin wearable technology shirts (HxS) to obtain data in a pilot study using a trail hiking situation. Ten individuals (male, n = 4, female n = 6) volunteered to participate. On the first day, volunteers completed two approximately flat trail hikes at a self-preferred pace with a 15-minute rest between trials. On the second day, participants completed a strenuous uphill hike (17.6% grade) with a 15-minute rest at the summit and then completed the downhill portion. Body metrics provided by the HxS were average heart rate (HR), maximal HR (MHR), total energy expenditure (EE), average respiratory rate (RR), maximal respiratory rate (MRR), total steps (SC), and cadence (CA). Other measurements obtained were systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP), and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE). Data were analyzed using both one-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with significance accepted at p≤0.05 and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) for each variable. Both were determined using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software (SPSS). No significant differences for trail type were noted for MHR (p=0.38), RR (p=0.45) or MRR (p=0.31). The uphill trail elicited significantly elevated HR (up=154±24 bpm, easy=118±11 bpm, down=129±19 bpm; p=0.04) and EE (up=251±78 kcal, easy=124±38 kcal, down=171±52 kcal; p=0.02). Significant ICC were observed for DBP (r = 0.80, p = 0.02), RR (r = 0.98, p = 0.01), SC (r = 0.97, p = 0.01) and RPE (r = 0.94, p = 0.01). Non-significant correlation were noted for uphill RR vs CA (r=0.51, p=0.16) or RPE vs SBP (r=0.03, p=0.94), HR (r=0.60, p=0.12), and MHR (r=0.70, p=0.051). We utilized HxS to provide physiological data in an applied setting. It should be noted that HR did not register in 5 out of 10 subjects on the easy trail, and 8 of 10 participants during the uphill hike. Additionally, estimated EE appears to be linked to HR intensity. Future investigations taken in an outdoor environment should take these findings into consideration.