Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Ageing and Degeneration (Edinburgh, UK) (2015) Proc Physiol Soc 33, PC19

Poster Communications

The effect of G

D. James1, W. Hawkes2

1. School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom. 2. Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom.


To promote and maintain health, older adults need moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 150 minutes per week1,2. Unfortunately, only 19% of over-65s comply with these guidelines3 and this is more than likely the case also for the over-50s when walking is the only form of physical activity. In order to meet the energetic equivalent of the physical activity guidelines, the otherwise leisurely walker is thus required to increase their speed, or incorporate an additional task within their walking pattern4. A new walking technique has been developed. ‘Walkactive' encourages walkers to walk while attending to specific mechanical elements within their gait. This technique anecdotally improves health and wellbeing and induces postural improvements. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether participation in, and retention of an active walking profile beholds health improvements superior to what is otherwise regarded as ‘normal' walking.33 self-reported sedentary adults were assigned to either an experimental (EXP, n=24 [11M, 13F], mean ± SD: 53.6 ± 7.1 years; 27.1 ± 3.6 BMI) or control group (CON, n=9 [5M, 4F]: 56.0 ± 6.6 years, 25.4 ± 2.5 BMI). An A1-B-A2 experimental design was adopted for the present study. A1 consisted of baseline measurements comprising health-related indices and a full body gait analysis. Following this, EXP took part in one month's training of the ‘Walkactive' technique (B). CON received no intervention (B) period and was instructed not to change their lifestyle in any way. Participants were then invited back to the laboratory for post-intervention measurements (A2). A single factor (time) repeated measures ANOVA, with group as the between-subjects factor, was used to identify interaction and effect sizes (ŋ2).Significant interaction effects were found for mass (P<0.01, η2:0.24), body fat percentage (P<0.05, η2:0.16) and supra-iliac skinfold site (P<0.01, η2:0.30), being significantly lower in EXP post-intervention. There were no significant interaction effects (P>0.05) between the EXP and CON in any gait cycle spatio-temporal variable. However, interaction effects were found in whole body centre of mass range of motion (P<0.05); and in knee angular impulse (P<0.01, η2:0.30), vertical ground reaction force (P<0.05, η2:0.30) and the relative phase coordination between the lower limbs (P<0.05, η2:0.13) all during mid-stance of the gait cycle.The results suggest that EXP participants might not have fully ingrained the technicalities of the ‘Walkactive' technique after only one month's training. Nonetheless, adopting a ‘Walkactive' technique does improve general health and wellbeing and represents a more demanding and mechanically-efficient form of walking that may benefit the elderly walker in meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements