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Brisk walking speed in older adults who walk for exercise

OBJECTIVES: To determine the self-selected exercise intensity of older adults who report that they walk briskly for exercise. An additional aim of the study was to assess the contribution of self-reported physical activity to self-selected exercise intensity. DESIGN: Observational. SETTING: walking path. PARTICIPANTS: Subjects consisted of 212 participants in the Study of Physical Performance and Age-Related Changes in Sonomans who stated in a detailed home interview that they walked briskly for exercise. MEASUREMENTS: Observed brisk walking speed was measured as the time it took participants to walk half a mile at ‘normal brisk walking speed.’ Self-reported physical activity was categorized as metabolic equivalent of the task (MET) in minutes of exercise reported in the previous 7 days. Physiological measures and body composition were obtained through laboratory evaluation. RESULTS: Men walked at an average speed+/-standard deviation of 5.72+/-0.69 km/h and women walked at an average speed of 5.54+/-0.64 km/h. Self-reported physical activity was not associated with brisk walking speed when adjusted for age and ratio of lean to fat mass. CONCLUSION: This study found that older adults who report that they walk briskly for exercise do so at a pace considered moderate or greater in absolute intensity as indicated by their walking speed (4.83 km/h). Ninety-eight percent of men (93/95) and 97% of women (113/117) had an observed walking speed equivalent to 3 or more METs based on their calculated walking speed.

Authors: Parise C; Sternfeld B; Samuels S; Tager IB

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 Mar;52(3):411-6.

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