Spatial and Temporal Parameters of Self-Selected and Fast Walking Speeds in Healthy Community-Living Adults Aged 72–98 Years

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Physical Therapy


Purpose: There is limited data about typical performance for spatial and temporal measures of self-selected walking speed (SSWS) and fast walking speeds (FWS) for healthy adults older than 75 years. This study reports both velocity and spatial and temporal characteristics of walking by age group and gender for 118 community-living adults between the ages of 72 and 98 years, mean age 84.8 (5.3) years, participating in a functional assessment clinic held at their continuing care retirement community.

Methods: Three trials of SSWS and 3 trials of FWS were captured using the GAITRite system (CIR Systems, Inc., Havertown, Pennsylvania). Velocity, normalized velocity, and other spatial and temporal parameters were calculated by GAITRite software. Independent t tests were used to evaluate differences by age and gender in demographic and anthropometric characteristics, and vital signs. Mean of 3 trials was used to develop performance values by age group and gender. Analysis of variance with appropriate post hoc testing was used to identify differences in gait characteristics by age and gender.

Results: There were no differences in anthropomorphic or vital signs by age group; men where taller and heavier as would be expected. There was a consistent age effect for both SSWS and FWS; gait velocity decreased as age increased, with significant differences between all decades of age. There was a significant gender effect, with men walking faster than women at SSWS and FWS. Even after normalizing SSWS and FWS to leg length, men walked faster than females.

Conclusion: Data reported in this study of generally healthy older adults can be used by rehabilitation professionals to develop goals for functional walking speed and determine readiness for discharge for patients intending to return to community-living settings following their rehabilitation.




Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy






Wolters Kluwer