[Purpose] The aim of this study was to identify the age-associated changes in gait speed, stride length, cadence and step width, and to examine the relationship between these gait variables with a history of falls and life-space experience among elderly people. [Subjects] The participants were 848 healthy elderly adults (mean age 80 years, range 73-91, 76.8% women) living independently at home. [Methods] Gait speed, stride length, cadence and step width were measured at a normal pace using WalkWay, a device for measuring the distribution of foot pressure during walking. Any history of falls in the previous year was investigated by self-report and a life-space assessment was used to investigate the activity status of the subjects. [Results] Gait speed and stride length decreased markedly from age 85 years in women, and from age 90 years in men. Cadence and step width did not change consistently with aging. Gait speed was associated significantly with a history of falls and with life-space restriction, although these relationships were weak. [Conclusion] Gait speed reduces with age and might reflect a functional decline in elderly people.
2010 by the Society of Physical Therapy Science