Cadence-based Classification of Minimally Moderate Intensity During Overground Walking in 21- to 40-Year-Old Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Background: A walking cadence of ≥100 steps/min corresponds to minimally moderate intensity, absolutely defined as ≥3 metabolic equivalents (METs). This threshold has primarily been calibrated during treadmill walking. There is a need to determine the classification accuracy of this cadence threshold to predict intensity during overground walking. Methods: In this laboratory-based cross-sectional investigation, participants (N = 75, 49.3% women, age 21–40 y) performed a single 5-minute overground (hallway) walking trial at a self-selected preferred pace. Steps accumulated during each trial were hand tallied and converted to cadence (steps/min). Oxygen uptake was measured using indirect calorimetry and converted to METs. The classification accuracy (sensitivity, specificity, overall accuracy, and positive predictive value) of ≥100 steps/min to predict ≥3 METs was calculated. Results: A cadence threshold of ≥100 steps/min yielded an overall accuracy (combined sensitivity and specificity) of 73.3% for predicting minimally moderate intensity. Moreover, for individuals walking at a cadence ≥100 steps/min, the probability (positive predictive value) of achieving minimally moderate intensity was 80.3%. Conclusions: Although primarily developed using treadmill-based protocols, a cadence threshold of ≥100 steps/min for young adults appears to be a valid heuristic value (evidence-based, rounded, practical) associated with minimally moderate intensity during overground walking performed at a self-selected preferred pace.

Aguiar is with the Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. Gould is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA. Ducharme is with the Department of Kinesiology, California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA. Moore was with the University of Massachusetts Physical Activity and Health Lab, Amherst, MA. McCullough is with the Department of Music and Dance, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA. Tudor-Locke is with the College of Health and Human Services, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC.

Tudor-Locke ( is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

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    • Supplementary Material 2 (xls 24 KB)