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Abstract

1Paulson, S., 2Gray, M. 1Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA; 2University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

Gait speed (GS) has been recognized as an integral component of functional independence. Further, step length (SL), cadence (CAD) and the percentage of the gait cycle in spent in stance (%ST) have been associated with risk of falls and mobility disability among older adults. Purpose: This study examined temporal spatial gait variables in young and low and high functionally fit older adults. Methods: Twenty older and 12 younger adults (CON; M±SD = age: 22.3±1.8, height 1.7±0.1 m, mass 66.1±11.8 kg) completed two 20 m habitual walking trials and the fastest time was recorded. Selected gait variables were averaged from the foot strikes across a gait mat. Functional fitness (FF) was assessed using a stair climb test and relative power was used to create the low (LFF; n = 8; M±SD = age: 73.9±6.9, height 1.6±0.2 m, mass 76.6±15.5 kg) and high (HFF; n= 12; M±SD = age: 70.1±4.2, height 1.75±0.1 m, mass 72.1±14.9 kg) functionally fit older adult groups. A one-way ANOVA was used to assess differences between the groups on the dependent variables of gait. Results: The results yielded a statistically significant difference (p < .05) between the groups for GS, SL, and percentage of swing (%SW) and %ST. The LFF group walked significantly slower than both the CON and HFF group but, there was not a difference in speed between the CON and HFF. The LFF group also spent more time in stance, less time in swing, and had a shorter SL than the CON; however, there was not a difference between the LFF and HFF groups on these variables. The HFF group was not different from the CON on GS, SL, %SW or %ST. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that as one ages if they maintain a higher level of FF then they do not express the same age-related changes in gait as those with a lower level.

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