We tested the hypothesis that the intensity of daily ambulation would relate with functional walking capacity in older adults. Forty-three women (n = 25) and men (n = 18) between the ages of 60-78 years wore an accelerometer for measurement of average daily steps and 30-min peak stepping cadence. A 400-m walk test was used to measure walking speed. No sex difference was found for average daily steps (p = .76), average peak cadence (p = .96), or walking speed (p = .89). Daily steps (women: r = .68, p < .01; men: r = .04) and peak cadence (women: r = .81, p < .01; men: r = −.16) were positively correlated with walking speed in women but not in men. After controlling for daily steps, peak cadence remained significantly associated with walking speed in women (partial r = .61, p < .01). Walking intensity during daily ambulation is independently related to functional walking capacity in older adults, albeit this relation may be more significant for women than men.
Gonzales, Shephard, and Dubey are with the Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.