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Energy Cost of Slow and Normal Gait Speeds in Low and Normally Functioning Adults

Rowley, T.W. MS1; Cho, C. MS2; Swartz, A.M. PhD1,2; Staudenmayer, J. PhD3; Hyngstrom, A. PT, PhD4; Keenan, K.G. PhD1; Welch, W.A. PhD5; Strath, S.J. PhD1,2

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: May 23, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001228
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Objective Slow walking speed paired with increased energy cost is a strong predictor for mortality and disability in older adults but has yet to be examined in a heterogenous sample (i.e. age, gender, disease status). The purpose of this study was to examine energy cost of slow and normal walking speeds among low- and normal-functioning adults.

Design Adults 20-90 years old were recruited for this study. Participants completed a 10-m functional walk test at a self-selected normal walking speed, and were categorized as low-functioning (LF) or normal-functioning (NF) based upon expected age and gender adjusted average gait speed. Participants completed two successive 3-minute walking stages, at slower than normal and normal walking speeds, respectively. Gas exchange was measured, and energy cost per meter (ml.kg-1.m-1) was calculated for both walking speeds.

Results Energy cost per meter was higher (p<0.0001) in the LF group (n=76; female=59.21%; age 61.13±14.68 years (mean±SD)) during the slower than normal and normal (p<0.0001) walking speed bouts compared with the NF group (n=42; female=54.76%; age 51.55±19.51 years).

Conclusion Low-functioning adults rely on greater energy cost per meter of walking at slower and normal speeds. This has implications for total daily energy expenditure in low-functioning, adult populations.

1Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, 53201

2Center for Aging and Translational Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 53201

3Department of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, 01003

4Department of Physical Therapy, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, 53233

5Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611

Corresponding Author: Scott J. Strath; sstrath@uwm.edu

Author Disclosures: The authors have no competing interests. This work was supported by funding from the NIH 1R21HD080828.

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