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Prevalence, predictors and benefits of resistance training for improving gait speed in aged care
journal contributionposted on 12.11.2019, 00:00 by J Keogh, T Henwood, H Senior, Samantha FienSamantha Fien
Background: Low gait speed is a significant risk factor for many age‐related adverse effects. Relatively little is known about the prevalence and predictors of low gait speed in residential aged care (RAC) and if this can be improved by exercise. Methods: The gait speed of 102 adults residing in 11 RAC facilities in South East Queensland was collected via stopwatch. Another 100 RAC adults had their gait spatiotemporal characteristics analysed by the Gaitmat II pressure mat system in an attempt to better characterise the gait and understand which spatio‐temporal gait parameters predict gait speed. A feasibility trial was also conducted to examine the feasibility and benefits of resistance and balance training to improve gait in RAC. Results: Sarcopenic gait speed prevalence was ˜97% in RAC across the two initial studies. Multivariable linear regression involving all independent secondary spatio‐temporal outcomes identified the following factors (stride length, support base and step time) that predicted walking speed (r2 = 0.89). Stride length was the strongest predictor with each 0.1 m increase in stride length resulting in an average 0.09 (95% CI 0.06–0.13) m/s faster preferred gait speed. Resistance and balance training was found to be highly feasible, and resulted in significant increases in the gait speed of RAC residents. Conclusion: Sarcopenic gait speed is endemic in the RAC setting, with short stride length, wide support base and a long step time predictive of slow gait speed. Resistance and balance training proved feasible and significantly improved gait speed in the RAC setting. Further improvements in gait speed may be obtained by matching the exercise prescription to the strongest predictors of gait speed.