Body Acceleration as Indicator for Walking Economy in an Ageing Population

G. Valenti, A. Bonomi, K.R. Westerterp

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: In adults, walking economy declines with increasing age and negatively influences walking speed. This study aims at detecting determinants of walking economy from body acceleration during walking in an ageing population. METHODS: 35 healthy elderly (18 males, age 51 to 83 y, BMI 25.5+/-2.4 kg/m2) walked on a treadmill. Energy expenditure was measured with indirect calorimetry while body acceleration was sampled at 60Hz with a tri-axial accelerometer (GT3X+, ActiGraph), positioned on the lower back. Walking economy was measured as lowest energy needed to displace one kilogram of body mass for one meter while walking (WCostmin, J/m/kg). Gait features were extracted from the acceleration signal and included in a model to predict WCostmin. RESULTS: On average WCostmin was 2.43+/-0.42 J/m/kg and correlated significantly with gait rate (r2 = 0.21, p<0.01) and regularity along the frontal (anteroposterior) and lateral (mediolateral) axes (r2 = 0.16, p<0.05 and r2 = 0.12, p<0.05 respectively). Together, the three variables explained 46% of the inter-subject variance (p<0.001) with a standard error of estimate of 0.30 J/m/kg. WCostmin and regularity along the frontal and lateral axes were related to age (WCostmin: r2 = 0.44, p<0.001; regularity: r2 = 0.16, p<0.05 and r2 = 0.12, p<0.05 respectively frontal and lateral). CONCLUSIONS: The age associated decline in walking economy is induced by the adoption of an increased gait rate and by irregular body acceleration in the horizontal plane.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0141431
Number of pages10
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume10
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2015

Keywords

  • LOCAL DYNAMIC STABILITY
  • AGE-RELATED DIFFERENCES
  • OLDER-ADULTS
  • GAIT VARIABILITY
  • FALL RISK
  • ENERGETIC COST
  • SPEED
  • COMMUNITY
  • RELIABILITY
  • EXPENDITURE

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