Differences in gait parameters at a preferred walking speed in healthy subjects due to age, height and body weight

M M Samson, A Crowe, P L de Vreede, J A Dessens, S A Duursma, H J Verhaar
Aging: Clinical and Experimental Research 2001, 13 (1): 16-21
The objective of our cross-sectional study was to investigate the changes associated with age and gender in walking speed, stride length and cadence of healthy women and men over the adult age range, and establish the effects of anthropometric indices such as height and body weight. We examined 118 women and 121 men (age range, 19-90 years). Subjects walked at their preferred speed over a 12-meter walkway crossing two Kistler force plates: cadence was calculated from heel strike times recorded from the Kistler force plates; walking speed was measured using an infrared reflecting system; and stride length was calculated from the walking speed and cadence. Older healthy subjects had lower values for walking speed and stride length than younger subjects. While there is little difference in the percentage reduction between women and men over the adult age range. the absolute values for walking speed are lower in women than men at all ages. In women, the percentage of explained variance for decline in walking speed was 30%, and for decline in stride length 400%. If body weight was also taken into account, the percentage of explained variance for walking speed was 37%, and for stride length 59%. A similar calculation for men yields 34% for decline in walking speed, and 42% for decline in stride length. Cadence was not associated with age, height and body weight. The standard errors for the estimates of walking speed in both women and men, respectively, are reduced by 8% and 3% using the multiple regression technique. The corresponding standard errors for stride length were reduced by, respectively, 19% and 13% if height in either sexes, or height and body weight in women, were taken into account. In conclusion, preferred walking speed and stride length decline with age in healthy people. Lower values found in old healthy subjects partly contributed to the difference in height and body weight between old and young subjects. Cadence was not correlated with age, height and body weight.

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