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In the context of tele-monitoring, great interest is presently devoted to physical activity, mainly of elderly or people with disabilities. In this context, many researchers studied the recognition of activities of daily living by using accelerometers. The present work proposes a novel algorithm for activity recognition that considers the variability in movement speed, by using dynamic programming. This objective is realized by means of a matching and recognition technique that determines the distance between the signal input and a set of previously defined templates. Two different approaches are here presented, one based on Dynamic Time Warping (DTW) and the other based on the Derivative Dynamic Time Warping (DDTW). The algorithm was applied to the recognition of gait, climbing and descending stairs, using a biaxial accelerometer placed on the shin. The results on DDTW, obtained by using only one sensor channel on the shin showed an average recognition score of 95%, higher than the values obtained with DTW (around 85%). Both DTW and DDTW consistently show higher classification rate than classical Linear Time Warping (LTW).