Energetics of Walking in Elderly People: Factors Related to Gait Speed

Muscle Metabolism DPU, Research and Development, GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.
The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences (Impact Factor: 5.42). 12/2010; 65(12):1332-7. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glq137
Source: PubMed


Slow walking speed in elderly people predicts increased morbidity and mortality. We examined factors that may be associated with decreased habitual walking speed in older men and women.
Older (range: 60-88 years, mean = 72.5 years) men (n = 25) and women (n = 24) were recruited. The Short Physical Performance Battery, body composition, VO(₂peak) on a treadmill, VO₂ and rated perceived exertion during 10 minutes of walking at habitual gait speed and at a walking speed of 0.9 m/s, muscle strength, and level of physical activity were measured.
VO(₂peak) was strongly related to habitual gait speed (r = .744, p < .001) and remained significant even after controlling for age, muscle strength, and gender. Compared with the tertile of fastest walkers (mean gait speed, 1.37 ± 0.04 m/s), the tertile of slowest walkers (0.87 ± 0.02 m/s) were older (p < .001), shorter (p = .026), had lower lean body mass (p = .011), lower strength ( p < .001), less self-reported daily physical activity (p = .102), and higher relative (to VO(₂peak)) intensity during walking at their habitual speed (65.3% ± 3.9% vs 54.3% ± 2.1% of VO(₂peak), p = .013).
VO(p₂eak) was strongly associated with habitual walking speed, suggesting that as aerobic capacity declines with age, the exertion associated with habitual gait speed increases. A slowing of walking speed may be a response to increased perception of exertion. The extent to which exercise training affects habitual gait speed and fatigue is not clear.

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Available from: Nicholas P Hays, Sep 01, 2015
    • "Although aerobic endurance and lower body strength decrease with aging, it is not clear how these aspects are related in older adults populations (i.e., whether aerobic endurance affects lower body strength or vice versa). Several studies report a significant correlation between aerobic endurance, gait velocity, and mobility (i.e., Fiser et al., 2010; Rikli & Jones, 2013b). Other studies determined relationships between lower body strength, gait velocity, and mobility (Hicks et al., 2012; Protas & Tissier, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Functional ageing processes are characterised by a loss of performance capabilities for most physiological systems, such as aerobic endurance and lower body strength, which are important for independent living and active ageing. The present study examines the direction of influence between aerobic endurance and lower body strength over time in Italian sedentary older adults. A three-wave longitudinal model was tested using cross-lagged analysis for 202 individuals aged over 65 years (mean = 73.92, SD = 5.84; 140 females). Analysis revealed that aerobic endurance and lower body strength declines over time. In addition, greater aerobic endurance positively affected lower body strength over time; however, the converse was true only during the first period (first 6 months). These findings emphasise the importance of these relationships for the design and implementation of effective physical intervention for the older adults.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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    • "The Scientific World Journal chronic functional impairments [8] and the habitual speed of walking also declines as a compensatory action aimed at offsetting the decline in walking metabolic efficiency [10] [11] and in cardiopulmonary capacity [12], both occurring with advancing age. Although human walking has been extensively investigated in its multifaceted biomechanical, physiological, and pathological aspects [13] [14], little is known on whether lower limb length and body proportions affect the efficiency of overground walking in older persons. "
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    • "Individual records not within the stated parameters for steady state were not included in the analyses. Sub-maximal treadmill walking has frequently been used to assess energy cost of walking in older adults (Christiansen, Schenkman, McFann, Wolfe, & Kohrt, 2009; Fiser et al., 2010; Macko et al., 2001; Malatesta, et al., 2003; Martin, Rothstein, & Larish, 1992; McArdle, et al., 1986; Parvataneni K., 2008; Ralston, 1960; Schenkman, Hall, Kumar, & Kohrt, 2008; Schrack, Simonsick, & Ferrucci, 2010a; J. VanSwearingen, Perera S, Brach JS, Cham R, Rosano C, Studenski S, 2009; R. Waters, 1992; R. L. Waters, et al., 1988; Wert, et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the association between energy cost of walking and self-report of function, independent of comorbidity and gait speed, in older adults with mobility limitations. This cross-sectional observational study was conducted within an ambulatory clinical research training center. Forty-two older adults, age 65 and older, with slow and variable gait participated. Function was assessed using the Late Life Function and Disability Index-Basic Lower Extremity Subscale, while energy cost of walking was derived by standardizing the mean oxygen consumption recorded during physiological steady state by gait speed. Comorbidity and gait speed were collected as co-variates. Pearson's r correlation coefficient and regression analyses were used to assess the relationship between energy cost and function. Energy cost of walking was significantly correlated with self-reported function (Pearson's r=-0.50, p<0.001); furthermore, energy cost of walking explained an additional 17% (p=0.002) of the variance in self-reported function above and beyond the variance explained by comorbidity and gait speed combined. Energy cost of walking is emerging as another significant factor related to functional performance among older adults, even after controlling for comorbidity and gait speed - robust variables known for their strong contributions to function. Knowledge of and attention to the efficiency of how one moves (high energy cost of walking) may enhance rehabilitation efforts to further reduce "functional burden" in older adults.
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