Gait speed is related to physical function in older adults. This cross-sectional study examined the best predictors of maximal gait speed (MGS) among physical abilities, and general factors in healthy, rural community-dwelling older adults.
MGS, muscle strength, and postural sway were measured in 55 community-dwelling participants (age, 72.1 ± 6.8, range 61–87 years; 72.7% women). Two stepwise regressions were used to find MGS predictors in two models: physical abilities and global.
Strength of knee extensors with 60° of knee flexion (KStrength60°) and maximal distance in the anterior-posterior direction with eyes closed explained 50.2% of MGS variance (p < .05) in the physical abilities model. KStrength60°, age, and level of physical activity explained 63.9% of MGS variance (p < .05) in the global model.
Regardless of the model, KStrength60° was the best predictor of MGS in rural female older adults. Future research should examine the generalization of these findings to rural male older adults.