Background: Walking speed is reduced with aging. However, it is not certain whether the reduced walking speed is associated with physical and coordination fitness. This study explores the physical and coordination determinants of the walking speed decline in older women. Methods: One-hundred-eighty-seven active older women (72.2 ± 6.8 years) were asked to perform a 10-m walk test (self-selected and maximal walking speed) and a battery of the Senior fitness test: lower body strength, lower body flexibility, agility/dynamic balance, and aerobic endurance. Two parameters characterized the walking performance: closeness to the modeled speed minimizing the energetic cost per unit distance (locomotor rehabilitation index, LRI), and the ratio of step length to step cadence (walk ratio, WR). For dependent variables (self-selected and maximal walking speeds), a recursive partitioning algorithm (classification and regression tree) was adopted, highlighting interactions across all the independent variables. Results: Participants were aged from 60 to 88 years, and their self-selected and maximal speeds declined by 22% and 26% (p < 0.05), respectively. Similarly, all physical fitness variables worsened with aging (muscle strength: 33%; flexibility: 0 to −8 cm; balance: 22%; aerobic endurance: 12%; all p < 0.050). The predictors of maximal walking speed were only WR and balance. No meaningful predictions could be made using LRI and WR as dependent variables. Discussion: The results suggest that at self-selected speed, the decrease in speed itself is sufficient to compensate for the age-related decline in the motor functions tested; by contrast, lowering the WR is required at maximal speed, presumably to prevent imbalance. Therefore, any excessive lowering of LRI and WR indicates loss of homeostasis of walking mechanics and invites diagnostic investigation.

Determinants of age-related decline in walking speed in older women

Simone A.;Peyre-Tartaruga L. A.
2023-01-01

Abstract

Background: Walking speed is reduced with aging. However, it is not certain whether the reduced walking speed is associated with physical and coordination fitness. This study explores the physical and coordination determinants of the walking speed decline in older women. Methods: One-hundred-eighty-seven active older women (72.2 ± 6.8 years) were asked to perform a 10-m walk test (self-selected and maximal walking speed) and a battery of the Senior fitness test: lower body strength, lower body flexibility, agility/dynamic balance, and aerobic endurance. Two parameters characterized the walking performance: closeness to the modeled speed minimizing the energetic cost per unit distance (locomotor rehabilitation index, LRI), and the ratio of step length to step cadence (walk ratio, WR). For dependent variables (self-selected and maximal walking speeds), a recursive partitioning algorithm (classification and regression tree) was adopted, highlighting interactions across all the independent variables. Results: Participants were aged from 60 to 88 years, and their self-selected and maximal speeds declined by 22% and 26% (p < 0.05), respectively. Similarly, all physical fitness variables worsened with aging (muscle strength: 33%; flexibility: 0 to −8 cm; balance: 22%; aerobic endurance: 12%; all p < 0.050). The predictors of maximal walking speed were only WR and balance. No meaningful predictions could be made using LRI and WR as dependent variables. Discussion: The results suggest that at self-selected speed, the decrease in speed itself is sufficient to compensate for the age-related decline in the motor functions tested; by contrast, lowering the WR is required at maximal speed, presumably to prevent imbalance. Therefore, any excessive lowering of LRI and WR indicates loss of homeostasis of walking mechanics and invites diagnostic investigation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1489216
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