Purpose: To study how excess body weight influences the energy cost of walking (Cw) and determine if overweight and obese older adults self-select stride frequency to minimize Cw.
Methods: Using body mass index (BMI) men and women between the ages of 65–80 yr were separated into normal weight (NW, BMI ≤ 24.9 kg m−2, n = 13) and overweight-obese groups (OWOB, BMI ≥25.0 kg m−2, n = 13). Subjects walked at 0.83 m s−1 on an instrumented treadmill that recorded gait parameters, and completed three, six-minute walking trials; at preferred stride frequency (PSF), at +10% PSF, and at −10% PSF. Cw was determined by indirect calorimetry. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to compare groups, and associations were tested with Pearson correlations, α = 0.05.
Results: OWOB had 62% greater absolute Cw (301 ± 108 vs. 186 ± 104 J m−1, P < 0.001) and 20% greater relative Cwkg (3.48 ± 0.95 vs. 2.91 ± 0.94 J kg−1 m−1, P = 0.046) than NW. Although PSF was not different between OWOB and NW (P = 0.626), Cw was 8% greater in OWOB at +10% PSF (P < 0.001). At PSF OWOB spent less time in single-limb support (33.1 ± 1.5 vs. 34.9 ± 1.6 %GC, P = 0.021) and more time in double-limb support (17.5 ± 1.6 vs. 15.4 ± 1.4 %GC, P = 0.026) than NW. In OWOB, at PSF, Cw was correlated to impulse (r = −0.57, P = 0.027) and stride frequency (r = 0.51, P = 0.046).
Conclusions: Excess body weight is associated with greater Cw in older adults, possibly contributing to reduced mobility in overweight and obese older persons.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
D.P. LaRoche, Marques, N.R., Shumila, H.N., Logan, C.R., St. Laurent, R.M., Gonçalves, M. (2015) Excess body weight influences gait and energy cost of walking in older adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 47(5):1017-1025.
© 2015 by the American College of Sports Medicine