The physical capabilities underlying timed “Up and Go” test are time-dependent in community-dwelling older women

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Timed ‘Up and Go’ (TUG) has been widely used in research and clinical practice to evaluate physical function and mobility in older adults. However, the physical capabilities underlying TUG performance are not well elucidated. Therefore, the present study aimed at investigating a selection of physical capacities underlying TUG performance in community-dwelling older women. Four hundred and sixty-eight apparently healthy older women independent to perform the activities of daily living (mean age: 65.8 ± 6.0 years) were recruited from two specialized healthcare centers for older adults to participate in the study. Volunteers had their medical books reviewed and underwent evaluations of anthropometric data as well as physical and functional capacities. Pearson's correlation results indicate that TUG performance was significantly associated with upper (i.e., handgrip strength) and lower (i.e., sit-to-stand) limb muscle strength, balance (i.e., one-leg stand), lower limb muscle power (i.e., countermovement jump), aerobic capacity (i.e., 6-minute walk test), and mobility (i.e., usual and maximal walking speeds). When the analyses were performed based on TUG quartiles, a larger number of physical capabilities were associated with TUG >75% in comparison with TUG <25%. Multiple linear regression results indicate that the variability in TUG (˜20%) was explained by lower limb muscle strength (13%) and power (1%), balance (4%), mobility (2%), and aerobic capacity (<1%), even after adjusted by age and age plus body mass index (BMI). However, when TUG results were added as quartiles, a decrease in the impact of physical capacities on TUG performance was determined. As a whole, our findings indicate that the contribution of physical capabilities to TUG performance is altered according to the time taken to perform the test, so that older women in the lower quartiles — indicating a higher performance — have an important contribution of lower limb muscle strength, while volunteers in the highest quartile demonstrate a decreased dependence on lower limb muscle strength and an increased contribution of other physical capabilities, such as lower limb muscle power and balance.

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