Age-related changes in speed of walking

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Abstract

J. E. HIMANN, D. A. CUNNINGHAM, P. A. RECHNITZER, and DONALD H. PATERSON. Age-related changes in speed of walking. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 161–166, 1988. Self- paced walking was used as a measure of the neuromuscular slowing observed with aging. The effects of age on the choice of speed of walking, stride length, and step frequency were described for 289 males and 149 females aged 19 to 102 yr. These subjects were asked to walk at three self-selected paces (slow, normal, and fast) over an 80-m indoor course. Sixty-two years coincided with an accelerated decline in speed of walking. Before 62 yr, there was a 1 to 2% per decade decline in normal walking speed. After 63 yr, females showed a 12.4% per decade decrease and males showed a 16.1% per decade decrease.

The eldest group (63 yr and older) had a significantly slower speed of walking and smaller step length than the younger groups (19 to 39 and 40 to 62 yr) for all paces. Heart rate at the three paces was not changed across age.

In a multiple regression analysis, the only significant independent variable for walking speed at all three paces was (age)3, which accounted for 19 to 38% of the variance. When the population was divided into two age ranges (19 to 62 and 63 to 102 yr), walking speed was associated with height before 62 yr and with height and age after 62 yr.

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