Unfortunately, as we age, there are a lot of predictors of mortality including income, wealth, education, sex, marital status, and health conditions like cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. But recently, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston determined that low gait speeds can also be a predictor of mortality.
In the study, researchers tested the gait speed of 289 hospitalized patients (ages 65 years and older). They asked the patients to walk eight feet at their preferred speed. The majority (73.7%) of the patients walked at a gait speed at or below 0.6 m/s. Over the next two years, 49 (17%) of the patients died. All but four of the deaths occurred in people with gait speeds less than 0.6 meter per second (m/s). It was determined that patients whose gait speed is less than 0.6 m/s were two and half times more likely to die than those with faster gait speeds.
Gait speed can reflect the combined functioning of the nervous, sensory, musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems. Gait speed assessment is recommended as a standard evaluation for geriatric patients, but health care professionals aren’t routinely using these assessment in clinical settings. When gait speed is assessed, health care professionals can use it to help reveal a wide range of health disorders in older adults. In addition to an increased risk of death, declines in walking speed can lead to loss of independence and an increased risk of falls. Slow gait speed may also predict depression, motivation and social support.
Once a patient has been identified as having a slow gait, physicians can look for potential causes and make appropriate treatment recommendations like physical and/or occupational therapy.
Gait speed can be modified with treatment. Each 0.1 m/s increase in speed in acutely ill hospitalized patients has been linked to shorter hospital stays, reduced hospital costs and less disability in performing daily activities.
Tips to Improve Mobility
Mobility refers to your ability to move efficiently and effectively. As you age, you may lose mobility, making walking and other daily activities difficult. But there are some things you can do to improve your mobility:
- Improve your balance. Do exercises that work to improve your balance.
- Exercise to maintain and build strength.
- Stay active and energetic. Your age is just a number, don’t let it play with your mind and your ability to do things. Do projects on your own instead of hiring them out.
- Use walking aids like canes and walkers to improve mobility if you can no longer get around yourself.
- Make changes to your home. Add rails or ramps to improve your mobility.
- Invest in and wear comfortable shoes that fit. Cheap shoes with little or no trend can impair your mobility. Refer to the WalkEZStore’s Shoe Fitting Guide for more information on how to properly fit your shoes. If you suffer from painful foot conditions that hamper your ability to walk, consider wearing custom foot orthotics like ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics. These custom orthotics support the arches of your feet and guide your feet into better alignment. Since the function of your feet will be more optimally controlled, you’ll experience greater stability and balance.
- Take care of your vision. Have your eyes checked regularly and keep your glasses’ prescription up to date.
- Prevent falls. Take measures to prevent falls in and outside of your home.
- Know your limits as to what you can and can’t do.
By following these tips, you can maintain or increase your mobility so you can live a happy, productive life as you age.
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If painful foot conditions are impairing your mobility, consider ordering ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics. They provide the proper support your feet need while reducing any stress and strain on your feet, knees, hips and lower back.
ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics are ultra thin and ¾ length, so they fit into a wide variety of footwear with ease. And they come with a 90-day, money-back guarantee. So you have nothing to lose but your pain.
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