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Measuring Walking Speed: Clinical Feasibility and Reliability

Fritz, Stacy L. MSPT, PhD; Peters, Denise M. PT, DPT; Greene, Jennifaye V. PT, MS, NCS

Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: April/June 2012 - Volume 28 - Issue 2 - p 91–96
doi: 10.1097/TGR.0b013e31823d9c22
Walking Speed: The Sixth Vital Sign

While standardized measures and physical performance tests are a vital component of evidenced-based practice, time constraints limit the number of measures that clinicians can administer. Walking speed (WS) is a feasible measure because it is safe, cost-effective, requires limited time and equipment, and is easy to interpret. In addition, the measure is reliable, has established norms, is responsive to change, and has predictive capability. This article reviews various ways to measure WS and suggestions for clinical use of the measure.

Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Correspondence: Stacy L. Fritz, MSPT, PhD, 921 Assembly St, Public Health Research Center, Columbia, SC 29208 (

The authors declare there are no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.