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Gait Posture. 2016 Jun;47:31-6. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2016.02.018. Epub 2016 Apr 12.

The influence of gait speed on the stability of walking among the elderly.

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School of Physical Education and Sport Science, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou, Fujian 350117, China. Electronic address:
College of Foreign Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510632, China.
School of Physical Education and Sport Science, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou, Fujian 350117, China.
Centre for Scientific Research, Guangzhou Institute of Physical Education, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510500, China.


Walking speed is a basic factor to consider when walking exercises are prescribed as part of a training programme. Although associations between walking speed, step length and falling risk have been identified, the relationship between spontaneous walking pattern and falling risk remains unclear. The present study, therefore, examined the stability of spontaneous walking at normal, fast and slow speed among elderly (67.5±3.23) and young (21.4±1.31) individuals. In all, 55 participants undertook a test that involved walking on a plantar pressure platform. Foot-ground contact data were used to calculate walking speed, step length, pressure impulse along the plantar-impulse principal axis and pressure record of time series along the plantar-impulse principal axis. A forward dynamics method was used to calculate acceleration, velocity and displacement of the centre of mass in the vertical direction. The results showed that when the elderly walked at different speeds, their average step length was smaller than that observed among the young (p=0.000), whereas their anterior/posterior variability and lateral variability had no significant difference. When walking was performed at normal or slow speed, no significant between-group difference in cadence was found. When walking at a fast speed, the elderly increased their stride length moderately and their cadence greatly (p=0.012). In summary, the present study found no correlation between fast walking speed and instability among the elderly, which indicates that healthy elderly individuals might safely perform fast-speed walking exercises.


Elderly; Exercise prescription; Forward kinematics; Gait parameters; Walking stability

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