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The Relationship between Gait Speed and Overall Health

The assessment of gait is a common practice in a Physical Therapy clinic. From an individual’s abnormal gait pattern, a health professional can determine muscle weakness, impaired proprioception, balance or gait issues involved with a disease, and changes in somatosensory function. Gait and balance abnormalities occur in 14% of individuals over the age of 65 and in 50% of individuals over the age of 85. In addition, a person’s gait speed can be indicative of an individual’s well-being and good assessment for safety/fall risk. Three tests that may be used to assess an individual would be finding overall speed, the 10 meter walk test, and the 10 foot walk test. In these tests, certain gait speeds/times denote either that an individual can function independently or is dependent on another individual and requires help when accomplishing several tasks. An important mark that should be a primary goal for all individuals should be at the 1 m/s mark. This walking speed is suggestive that is less likely to be hospitalized, can be independent of activities of daily living (ADLs), and is less likely to suffer a fall. Another important walking speed marks that should be primary goals for individuals to meet is the 1.2 m/s mark. The 1.2 m/s mark ensures that an individual function completely independent when traveling around the community. Furthermore, graphs and test like the ones explained above are used to raise awareness by Physical Therapist and Exercise Specialist to individuals that may not meet these requirements. This helps these individuals further understand their overall health and seek the appropriate actions to ensure their safety. If you would...

Exercise and Aging

All can agree, it is inevitable to avoid the aging process. Throughout our life, we must prepare for the inevitable by either dropping our bad habits or most importantly incorporating exercise into our daily routine. As we age, we begin to see a negative impact on our cardiovascular, digestive, and neurovascular system. In addition, we will see a decrease in muscle mass, bone deposition, and memory. To counteract these detriments, we use exercise to prolong these effects on the body. Overall, exercise will immediate positive impact on the body by… Improving physical and mental health Reduce morbidity and prolong life span Help prevent falls Reduce anxiety and depression Reduce pain symptoms The ultimate goal of exercise in the aging process is to prolong the degeneration of bone and muscle. Through a successful exercise intervention, we are able to manipulate the aging curve to slow down muscle and bone loss in an individual. As shown by the graph below, bending the aging curve can produce a biological age of 70 in an individual with the chronological age of 90 in which results in about twice as much muscle area. In time, it is important to assess you overall health and determine whether or not it is in your best interest to exercise under the supervision of a Physical Therapist or Exercise Specialist to ensure your safety or to even have a reference to consult with about overall health and wellness issues. Sources: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity/introduction http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/aging/art-20046070?pg=1 By: Dan Hagan Editor’s Note: Keep a look out for more fitness/health informational blogs in the...