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The use of portable accelerometers for the assessment of physical activity in free-living individuals has increased exponentially since the introduction of this technique in the early 1980’s (Montoye et al., 1983; Troiano et al., 2008, 2014). Over the past ~40 years, data collection and processing protocols have been refined (Troiano, 2023). The ActiGraph (ActiGraph LLC, Pensacola, FL) is among the most widely used accelerometers in physical activity and health research (Wijndaele et al., 2015). The 2022 release of the ActiGraph count algorithm (Neishabouri et al.) “Quantification of Acceleration as Activity Counts in ActiGraph Wearables”, and accompanying Python package improved the transparency and interpretation of accelerometer device-measured physical activity. However, not all users are comfortable with the Python language.

What the Package Does

This R Package is a translation of ActiGraph’s Python package, with additional extensions to make data processing easier and faster for end users.

Key functionalities and extensions include:
1) Automation and partial runtime optimization of the count algorithm; 2) Visualization tools (plots and tables) to enhance program useability; 3) Accessibility and usability for individuals without programming experience.

The package reads the X, Y, and Z axes in a gt3x accelerometer file and converts it to Actigraphy counts.

Getting Started

Use of the package requires R (version 4.2.2 or greater recommended), with devtools and agcounts installed and ActiGraph data file of type “.gt3x”.

We suggest the following workflow:

  1. Install the agcounts Package
  2. Review and Set Parameters for Processing gt3x files
  3. Read Files
  4. Calculate Counts
  5. Write Output

Install the agcounts Package

# Install the devtools package if it is not already installed

# Use the `install_github` function to download agcounts from GitHub

Review and Set Parameters

The agcounts package includes a Shiny app to assist the user with fine tuning parameters such as epoch length. When first analyzing a data set, we suggest a user experienced with Actilife or ActiGraph data view a data set with the Shiny app, agcountsShinyDeployApp. The Shiny app is useful for visualizing the data and dynamically experimenting with setting various processing parameters that affect activity counts in subsequent steps. Users may also wish to compare agcounts processing to Actilife using the Shiny app. The Shiny App does not output processed data.

#Launch the Shiny app.

Use of the agcountsShinyDeployApp is relatively self explanatory but does require familiarity with analysis of gt3x files. Use and interpretation of gt3x files is beyond the scope of this README file. The app is dynamic to provide realtime decision making regarding parameters. After identifying appropriate parameters to suit project needs, users will use the R command line to fully process and output data.

Reading Files

Read in raw acceleration data and calculate ActiGraph counts

There are 3 ways to read in raw acceleration data using the agcounts package. This is done by the parser argument from the agread function. This is an exported function from the agcounts package but the user can also choose to access agread via the get_counts function to read the data and calculate counts. The preferred parser method is to use the calibrated reader from ActiGraph’s pygt3x Python module. This requires the user to ensure that Python version ≥ 3.8 is installed. We recommend the user load the reticulate package to install python and the pygt3x module by following these steps.


# Install miniconda and restart your R session

# Run py_config() to ensure that you have a python version available
# This will also initialize the r-reticulate virtual environment

# Install pygt3x from Gitub using pip
py_install("pygt3x", pip = TRUE)

# Check to see if the pygt3x installation worked

You can also choose to use the GGIR parser from the GGIR package. No additional configuration is needed except for ensuring the GGIR package is installed. Currently, this is the slowest way to calibrate data but can handle non-ActiGraph files. Finally, the read.gt3x parser can be used to read in data using the read.gt3x package. If the user is working with an ActiGraph device, we have also included a C++ version of the GGIR parser that offers calibration at an improved speed.

Calculate Counts

calculate_counts is the main function in the agcounts package.

Read and Convert a single gt3x file to ActiGraph counts

# path = "Full pathname to the gt3x file", e.g.:

path = system.file("extdata/example.gt3x", package = "agcounts")

# Ensure that the r-reticulate virtual environment has been activated.
# This may not be necessary based on your Python configuration and how you installed the python packages.



# Using the default pygt3x reader because pygt3x is installed
epochs_pygt3x <- 
  agread(path, parser = "pygt3x") %>%
  calculate_counts(epoch = 60)
# GGIR calibrated reader
epochs_ggir <- 
  agread(path, parser = "GGIR") %>%
  calculate_counts(epoch = 60)
# GGIR C++ calibrated reader
epochs_agcalibrate <-
  agread(path, parser = "read.gt3x") %>%
  agcalibrate() %>%
  calculate_counts(epoch = 60)
# read.gt3x R package
epochs_read_gt3x <-
  agread(path, parser = "read.gt3x") %>%
  calculate_counts(epoch = 60)

Get Counts

The get_counts function is the wrapper function for calculate_counts that also reads in the data using agread and one of the listed methods.

path = system.file("extdata/example.gt3x", package = "agcounts")
get_counts(path = path, epoch = 60, write.file = FALSE, = TRUE, parser = "pygt3x")

Writing Files

Read and convert a single gt3x file to ActiGraph counts exported to a csv file

We also offer a write.file argument that will read, convert, and export the ActiGraph count data to a csv file in the same directory.

# path = "Full pathname to the gt3x file", e.g.:
path = system.file("extdata/example.gt3x", package = "agcounts")

get_counts(path = path, epoch = 60, write.file = TRUE, = FALSE, parser = "pygt3x")

Read and convert multiple gt3x files to ActiGraph counts exported a csv file

We can extend the write.file argument by passing the path name of several gt3x files to an apply function.

folder = "Full pathname to the folder where the gt3x files are stored"

files = list.files(path = folder, pattern = ".gt3x", full.names = TRUE)

sapply(files, get_counts, epoch = 60, write.file = TRUE, = FALSE, parser = "pygt3x")

To speed up processing time, the parallel package may be a useful addition to the write.file argument. Here is sample code that can be adjusted based on each user’s computer and R configurations.

folder = "Full pathname to the folder where the gt3x files are stored"

files = list.files(path = folder, pattern = ".gt3x", full.names = TRUE)

cores = parallel::detectCores()

Ncores = cores - 1

cl = parallel::makeCluster(Ncores)


`%dopar%` = foreach::`%dopar%`

foreach::foreach(i = files, .packages = "agcounts") %dopar% {
  get_counts(path = i, epoch = 60, write.file = TRUE, = FALSE, parser = "pygt3x")



Montoye, H. J., Washburn, R., Servais, S., Ertl, A., Webster, J. G., & Nagle, F. J. (1983). Estimation of energy expenditure by a portable accelerometer [Journal Article]. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 15(5), 403–407.

Neishabouri, A., Nguyen, J., Samuelsson, J., Guthrie, T., Biggs, M., Wyatt, J., Cross, D., Karas, M., Migueles, J. H., Khan, S., & Guo, C. C. (2022). Quantification of acceleration as activity counts in ActiGraph wearable [Journal Article]. Sci Rep, 12(1), 11958.

Troiano, R. P. (2023). Evolution of public health physical activity applications of accelerometers: A personal perspective [Journal Article]. Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour, 6(1), 13–18.

Troiano, R. P., Berrigan, D., Dodd, K. W., Mâsse, L. C., Tilert, T., & McDowell, M. (2008). Physical activity in the united states measured by accelerometer [Journal Article]. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 40(1), 181–188.

Troiano, R. P., McClain, J. J., Brychta, R. J., & Chen, K. Y. (2014). Evolution of accelerometer methods for physical activity research [Journal Article]. Br J Sports Med, 48(13), 1019–1023.

Help and Package Maintenance

The package was created and is maintained by Dr. Brian Helsel using R version 4.2.2. Forward compatibility is a goal but cannot be guaranteed. Backward compatibility is not guaranteed. Brian welcomes suggested changes through the GitHub “Issues” functionality. Collaborative inquires are welcome via email.