The purpose of this study was to assess the relative and absolute reliability of metabolic measures of energy expenditure and gait speed during overground walking in older adults with mobility limitations. Thirty-three (mean age [SD] = 76.4 [6.6] years; 66% female) older adults with slow gait participated. Measures of energy expenditure and gait speed were recorded during two 6-min bouts of overground walking (1 week apart) at a self-selected “usual” walking pace. The relative reliability for all variables was excellent: ICC = .81−.91. Mean differences for five of the six outcome variables was less than or equal to the respected SEM, while all six mean differences fell below the calculated MDC95. Clinicians and researchers can be confident that metabolic measures of energy expenditure and gait speed in older adults with slow walking speeds can be reliably assessed during overground walking, providing an alternative to traditional treadmill assessments.
Wert, VanSwearingen, and Brach are with the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Perera is with the Division of Geriatric Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.