14 June 2024

Walking with different stride lengths increased metabolic costs

An experimental study by American scientists has shown that walking with step length variation significantly increases energy expenditure. As reported in a preprint of the work published on bioRxiv.org, the highest metabolic output was observed at ten per cent step length variability. On average, for every one per cent increase in step length variability, the metabolic cost of walking increased by 0.7 per cent.

In the experiment, prepared by a team of scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by Adam Grimmitt, 18 healthy young adults performed a series of five-minute walking exercises on a treadmill at a speed of 1.2 metres per second. Illuminated rectangles were projected onto the surface of the treadmill, and stepping on them varied step length by five or ten per cent. Actual stride length and its variability were monitored using reflective markings on the feet, and metabolic expenditure was measured using indirect calorimetry. With a ten per cent variability in stride length, metabolic output averaged 4.3 watts per kilogram; with a normal stride, this output was 3.98 watts per kilogram. According to the researchers, this work shows that increased gait variability in older adults with neurological impairment is partly responsible for the increased energy expenditure. This relationship may be important in determining treatment and care tactics.

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