Poor gait is an important risk factor for falls and associated with higher morbidity and mortality. It is well established that older age is associated with worse gait, but it remains unclear at what age this association is first seen. Moreover, previous studies focused mainly on normal walking, but gait also encompasses turning and tandem walking. In a large study of community-dwelling middle-aged and elderly persons we investigated the association of age with gait, focusing on normal walking, turning and tandem walking. In 1500 persons aged 50 years and over, we measured gait using an electronic walkway. Participants performed normal walks, turning and a tandem walk. With principal components analysis of 30 variables we summarized gait into five known gait factors: Rhythm, Variability, Phases, Pace and Base of Support; and uncovered two novel gait factors: Tandem and Turning. The strongest associations with age were found for Variability (difference in Z-score -0.29 per 10 years increase (95% confidence interval: -0.34; -0.24)), Phases (-0.31 per 10 years (-0.36; -0.27)) and Tandem (-0.25 per 10 years (-0.30; -0.20)). Additionally, these factors already showed association with the youngest age groups, from 55 to 60 years of age and older. Our study shows that Variability, Phases and Tandem have the strongest association with age and are the earliest to demonstrate a poorer gait pattern with higher age. Future research should further investigate how these gait factors relate with gait-related diseases in their earliest stages. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Verlinden, V. J. A., Van der Geest, J. N., Hoogendam, Y. Y., Hofman, A., Breteler, M. M. B., & Ikram, M. A. (2013). Gait patterns in a community-dwelling population aged 50 years and older. Gait and Posture, 37(4), 500–505. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.09.005