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Age Ageing. 1997 Jan;26(1):15-9.

Comfortable and maximum walking speed of adults aged 20-79 years: reference values and determinants.

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  • 1School of Allied Health, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269, USA.



to establish reference values for both comfortable and maximum gait speed and to describe the reliability of the gait speed measures and the correlation of selected variables with them.


descriptive and cross-sectional.


subjects were 230 healthy volunteers. Gait was timed over a 7.62 m expanse of floor. Actual and height normalized speed were determined. Lower extremity muscle strength was measured with a hand-held dynamometer.


mean comfortable gait speed ranged from 127.2 cm/s for women in their seventies to 146.2 cm/s for men in their forties. Mean maximum gait speed ranged from 174.9 cm/s for women in their seventies to 253.3 cm/s for men in their twenties. Both gait speed measures were reliable (coefficients > or = 0.903) and correlated significantly with age (r > or = -0.210), height (r > or = 0.220) and the strengths of four measured lower extremity muscle actions (r = 0.190-0.500). The muscle action strengths most strongly correlated with gait speed were nondominant hip abduction (comfortable speed) and knee extension (maximum speed).


these normative values should give clinicians a reference against which patient performance can be compared in a variety of settings. Gait speed can be expected to be reduced in individuals of greater age and of lesser height and lower extremity muscle strength.

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