This study examined gender differences in balance, gait, and muscle performance in seniors and identified gender-specific factors contributing to physical performance. Forty (20 men, 20 women) healthy, community-dwelling seniors (74.5 ± 5.3 years) participated. Limits of stability, gait speed, lower limb flexor and extensor isokinetic concentric peak torques, self-reported activity level, and balance confidence were measured. No gender differences were detected in gait speed, limits of stability when normalized to height, activity level, or balance confidence (p ≥ .188). Women were weaker than men (p ≤ .007), even after controlling for weight and body-mass index, suggesting that other gender-related factors contribute to strength. Gender accounted for 18–46% of the variance in strength and served as a modifier of the relationship between activity level and strength in some muscle groups. The primary factors relating to gender-specific strength was activity level in men and body weight in women.
The authors are with the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N.