Acute Effects of Walking Exercise on Stair Negotiation in Sedentary and Physically Active Older Adults

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Marcos R. Kunzler
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Emmanuel S. da Rocha
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Maarten F. Bobbert
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Jacques Duysens
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Felipe P. Carpes
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Background:

In negotiating stairs, low foot clearance increases the risk of tripping and a fall. Foot clearance may be related to physical fitness, which differs between active and sedentary participants, and be acutely affected by exercise. Impaired stair negotiation could be an acute response to exercise. Here we determined acute changes in foot clearances during stair walking in sedentary (n = 15) and physically active older adults (n = 15) after prolonged exercise.

Methods:

Kinematic data were acquired during negotiation with a 3-steps staircase while participants walked at preferred speed, before and after 30 min walking at preferred speed and using a treadmill. Foot clearances were compared before and after exercise and between the groups.

Results:

Sedentary older adults presented larger (0.5 cm for lead and 2 cm for trail leg) toe clearances in ascent, smaller (0.7 cm) heel clearance in the leading foot in descent, and larger (1 cm) heel clearance in the trailing foot in descent than physically active.

Conclusion:

Sedentary older adults negotiate stairs in a slightly different way than active older adults, and 30 min walking at preferred speed does not affect clearance in stair negotiation.

Kunzler, da Rocha, Bobbert, Duysens, and Carpes are with the Applied Neuromechanics Research Group, Federal University of Pampa, Uruguaiana, Brazil. Da Rocha and Carpes are also with the Graduate Program in Physical Education, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Brazil. Bobbert is also with the MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Duysens is also with the Research Center for Movement Control and Neuroplasticity, Dept of Kinesiology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Carpes (carpes@unipampa.edu.br) is corresponding author.
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