Muscle loading during physical activity and normal daily life: correlates with health and well being (EMG 24)


PI: Professor Taija Finni, Ph.D., Neuromuscular Research Center, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä.

Funded by Academy of Finland 2009-2010 (#128643/Finni).


By definition, physical activity is bodily movement that is produced by the contractile activity of muscles that substantially increases energy expenditure. Duration of muscular activity is primarily related to cardiovascular response whereas intensity of muscle activity is related to the strength required in a given task. Up today, physical activity during exercise and normal daily life has been estimated with heart rate monitors, accelometers, pedometers and, most often with different types of diaries and questionnaires but rarely with muscle activity measurements. In this project, all these assessments of physical activity were complemented with sophisticated EMG-shorts that measured thigh muscle activity. EMG activity and inactivity patterns were compared between age groups and associations between the EMG-results and metabolic health markers were studied. Over 100 subjects between age 20 and 76 were measured both in the laboratory and during 1-6 days of their normal daily life.


 EMG24Fig2   EMG24Fig1

LEFT: Shorts (Myontec Ltd. and Suunto Ltd.) that have been used to measure muscle activity and inactivity from major locomotory muscles during normal daily life. RIGHT: Measurement of maximal isometric strength using the shorts. 


  1. T. Finni, P. Haakana, A. J. Pesola, T. Pullinen. Exercise for fitness does not decrease the muscular inactivity time during normal daily life. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2014 Feb;24(1):211-9.
  2. Olli Tikkanen, MinHu, Toivo Vilavuo, Pekka Tolvanen, Sulin Cheng and Taija Finni. Ventilatory threshold during incremental running can be estimated using EMG shorts. Physiol. Meas. 33 (4):603-14, 2012.
  3. Tikkanen O, Haakana P, Pesola AJ, Häkkinen K, Rantalainen T, Havu M, Pullinen T, Finni T. (2012) Muscle Activity and Inactivity Periods during Normal Daily Life. PlosOne, 8:1:e52228.

 4. Tikkanen O, Kärkkäinen S, Haakana P, Kallinen M, Pullinen T, Finni T. (2014) EMG, heart rate and accelerometer as estimators of energy expenditure in locomotion. Med Sci Sports Exerc 46 (9):1831-9.

5. Tikkanen O, Sipilä S, Kuula AS, Pesola A, Haakana P, Finni T. (2015) Muscle activity during daily life in the older people. Aging Clin Exp Res, Nov 2.


Ph.D. Thesis by Olli Tikkanen: Physiological loading during daily life and exercise assessed with electromyography. University of Jyväskylä.

Abstracts presented at scientific congresses:

1.      Finni T, Haakana P, Romppainen T, Pullinen T. Sedentary activity time quantified by using muscle activity and heart rate during normal daily living of ordinary people. Puijo Symposium, Kuopio 2011.

2.      Pesola A, Tikkanen O, Haakana P, Pullinen T, Sipilä S, Finni T. Muscle activity and inactivity during normal daily life of ordinary people. Puijo Symposium, Kuopio 2011.

3.      Finni T, Haakana P, Romppainen T, Pullinen T. Exercise does not alter the time in sedentary activities during normal daily life in ordinary people. 2nd International Congress on Soldiers’ Physical Performance. May 4-7, 2011 Jyväskylä Finland.

4.      Finni T, Haakana P, Tikkanen O, Petrin M, Pullinen T. Physical activity and inactivity during normal daily life quantified using electromyography. 15.6.2010. 13th World Sport for All Congress, Jyväskylä, Finland.

5.      Finni T, Haakana P, Tikkanen O, Sipilä S,Pullinen T. Locomotor muscle activity and inactivity during normal daily life in ordinary people. Nordic Conference: Interdisciplinary perspectives on health, participation and effects of sport and exercise, 29.10.2010, Odence, Denmark.

6.      Haakana P, Tikkanen O, Pullinen T, Rantalainen T, Finni T. Pääliikuttajalihaksemme ovat inaktiivisia yli 70% ajasta normaalissa päivittäisessä elämässämme. ”Main locomotor muscles are inactive over 70% of the time during normal daily life.” Liikuntalääketieteen päivät Helsinki 21.11.2010.

7.      Tikkanen O, Haakana P, Perez G, Pullinen T, Finni T. Energiankulutuksen arviointimenetelmien vertailu: Reisilihasten EMG aktiivisuus, syke ja kiihtyvyys kävelyssä ja juoksussa. ”Estimation of energy consumption: comparison between heart rate, accelerometer and thigh muscle electromyography during walking and running.” Liikuntalääketieteen päivät Helsinki 21.11.2010.

Study in Media: New York Times

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