The study investigated (a) walking intensity (stride rate and energy expenditure) under three speed instructions; (b) associations between stride rate, age, height, and walking intensity; and (c) synchronization between stride rate and music tempo during overground walking in a population of healthy older adults.
Twenty-nine participants completed 3 treadmill-walking trials and 3 overground-walking trials at 3 self-selected speeds. Treadmill VO2 was measured using indirect calorimetry. Stride rate and music tempo were recorded during overground-walking trials.
Mean stride rate exceeded minimum thresholds for moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) under slow (111.41 ± 11.93), medium (118.17 ± 11.43), and fast (123.79 ± 11.61) instructions. A multilevel model showed that stride rate, age, and height have a significant effect (p < .01) on walking intensity.
Healthy older adults achieve MVPA with stride rates that fall below published minima for MVPA. Stride rate, age, and height are significant predictors of energy expenditure in this population. Music can be a useful way to guide walking cadence.