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The Effects of Mobile Texting and Walking Speed on Gait Characteristics of Normal Weight and Obese Adults

Jongil Lim, Jiyeon Kim, Kyoungho Seo, Richard E.A. van Emmerik, and Sukho Lee

The aim of this study was to examine how usage of mobile devices while simultaneously walking affects walking characteristics and texting performance of normal weight (NW) and obese (OB) individuals. Thirty-two OB (body mass index [BMI] = 34.4) and NW (BMI = 22.7) adults performed two 60-s walking trials at three-step frequencies along a rectangular walkway in two conditions (No Texting and Texting). Dual-task cost as well as unadjusted spatial and temporal gait characteristics were measured. Dual-task costs for the gait parameters as well as texting performance were not different between the groups, except for the lateral step variability showing a larger variability at the preferred frequency in OB individuals. For the unadjusted variables, OB exhibited longer double support, longer stance time, and lower turn velocity compared with NW. Overall, the results highlight a similar dual-task cost for the OB individuals compared with the NW individuals, in spite of underlying differences in gait mechanics.