Minimal effects of age and prolonged physical and mental exercise on healthy adults' gait

Santos, P. C. R. D., Hortobágyi, T., Zijdewind, I., Bucken Gobbi, L. T., Barbieri, F. A. & Lamoth, C., Oct-2019, In : Gait & Posture. 74, p. 205-211 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Copy link to clipboard


  • Minimal effects of age and prolonged physical and mental exercise on healthy adults’ gait

    Final publisher's version, 1.01 MB, PDF document

    Request copy


BACKGROUND: Gait adaptability in old age can be examined by responses to various perturbations. Fatigability due to mental or muscle exercises can perturb internal cognitive and muscle resources, necessitating adaptations in gait.

RESEARCH QUESTION: What are the effects of age and mental and muscle fatigability on stride outcomes and gait variability?

METHODS: Twelve older (66-75yrs) and twelve young (20-25 yrs) adults walked at 1.2 m/s before and after two fatigue conditions in two separate sessions. Fatigue conditions were induced by repetitive sit-to-stand task (RSTS) and by 30-min of mental tasks and randomized between days (about a week apart). We calculated the average and coefficient of variation of stride length, width, single support, swing time and cadence, and the detrended fluctuations analysis (DFA) based on 120 strides time intervals. We also calculated multi-scale sample entropy (MSE) and the maximal Lyapunov exponent (λmax) of mediolateral (ML) and anteroposterior (AP) of the Center of Pressure (CoP) trajectories.

RESULTS: In both age groups, RSTS modestly affected stride length, single support time, cadence, and CV of stride length (p ≤ 0.05), while the mental task did not affect gait. After fatigability, λmax - ML increased (p ≤ 0.05), independent of fatigue condition. All observed effects were small (η²: 0.001 to 0.02).

SIGNIFICANCE: Muscle and mental fatigability had minimal effects on gait in young and healthy older adults possibly because treadmill walking makes gait uniform. It is still possible that age-dependent muscle activation underlies the uniform gait on the treadmill. Age- and fatigability effects might be more overt during real life compared with treadmill walking, creating a more effective model for examining gait and age adaptability to fatigability perturbations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-211
Number of pages7
JournalGait & Posture
Early online date17-Sep-2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2019

ID: 98535773