Outcome-dependent effects of walking speed and age on quantitative and qualitative gait measures

Iris Hagoort*, Nicolas Vuillerme, Tibor Hortobágyi, Claudine JC Lamoth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Walking speed predicts many clinical outcomes in old age. However, a comprehensive assessment of how walking speed affects accelerometer based quantitative and qualitive gait measures in younger and older adults is lacking. Research question: What is the relationship between walking speed and quantitative and qualitive gait outcomes in younger and older adults? Methods: Younger (n = 27, age: 21.6) and older participants (n = 27, age: 69.5) completed 340 steps on a treadmill at speeds of 0.70 to a maximum of 1.75 m·s-1. We used generalized additive mixed models to determine the relationship between walking speed and quantitative (stride length, stride time, stride frequency and their variability) and qualitive (stride regularity, stability, smoothness, symmetry, synchronization, predictability) gait measures extracted from trunk accelerations. Results: The type of relationship between walking speed and the majority of gait measures (quantitative and qualitative) was characterized as logarithmic, with more prominent speed-effects at speeds below 1.20 m·s−1. Changes in quantitative measures included shorter strides, longer stride times, and a lower stride frequency, with more variability at lower speeds independent of age. For qualitative measures, we found a decrease in gait symmetry, stability and regularity in all directions with decreasing speeds, a decrease in gait predictability (Vertical, V, anterior-posterior, AP) and stronger gait synchronization (AP-mediolateral, ML, AP-V), and direction dependent effects of gait smoothness, which decreased in V direction, but increased in AP and ML directions with decreasing speeds. We found outcome-dependent effects of age on the quantitative and qualitative gait measures, with either no differences between age-groups, age-related differences that existed regardless of speed, and age-related differences in the type of relationship with walking speed. Significance: The relationship between walking speed and quantitative and qualitative gait measures, and the effects of age on this relationship, depends on the type of gait measure studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2022


  • Aging
  • Gait quality and quantity
  • Generalized additive mixed models
  • Treadmill
  • Walking speed

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