The energy consumption of walking relates to the intensity of physical effort and can be affected by the alterations in walking speed. Therefore, walking speed can be accepted as a crucial, determinant of energy consumption measurement for a walking test. We aimed to investigate the differences in preferred walking speed (PWS) determined both on overground and on a treadmill and, to measure walking energy expenditure and spatio-temporal parameters of gait on a treadmill at both, speeds. Participants (n = 26) walked on a treadmill at two pre-determined speeds for 7 min while, indirect calorimetry measurements were being performed. Spatio-temporal parameters were collected, by video-taping during each walking session on a treadmill. The average overground preferred walking speed (O-PWS) was 85.96 ± 12.82 m/min and the average treadmill preferred walking speed (T-PWS), was 71.15 ± 13.85 m/min. Although T-PWS was lower, oxygen cost was statistically higher when, treadmill walking at T-PWS (0.158 ± 0.02 ml/kg/m) than when the treadmill walking at O-PWS, (0.1480 ± 0.02 ml/kg/m). Cadence (127 ± 9.13 steps/min), stride (134.02 ± 14.09 cm) and step length (67.02 ± 6.90 cm) on the treadmill walking at O-PWS were significantly higher than cadence (119 ± 10 steps/min), stride (117.96 ± 14.38 cm) and step length (59.13 ± 7.02 cm) on the treadmill walking at TPWS. In conclusion, walking on treadmill using O-PWS is more efficient than walking on treadmill using TPWS, in walking tests. Since using T-PWS for treadmill walking tests overestimates the oxygen cost of walking, O-PWS should be used for oxygen consumption measurement during treadmill walking tests. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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