Unfortunately, as we age, mortality can be predicted by looking at several factors. These predictors can include 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 of the patients (73.7%) walked at a gait speed at or below 0.6 meters per second. Over the next two years, 49 of these patients (17%) died. All but four of the deaths occurred in people who walked with gait speeds of less than 0.6 meters per second. Researchers determined that patients whose gait speed is less than 0.6 meters per second were two and half times more likely to die than those with faster gait speeds.
Gait Speed Evaluation Should Be Standard for Older Individuals
Gait speed assessment is recommended as a standard evaluation for older patients. However, health care professionals aren’t routinely using these assessments with their patients. 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 also lead to loss of independence and an increased risk of falls. Additionally, slow gait speed may predict depression, motivation, and social support.
Treatment Can Improve Gait Speed
Once a patient has been identified as having a slow gait, physicians can look for potential causes. They can also make appropriate treatment recommendations like physical and/or occupational therapy.
Gait speed can be modified with treatment. Each 0.1 meters per second 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, which can make walking and other daily activities difficult. But you can do some things to improve your mobility:
- Improve your balance. Do regular exercises 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 tread 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® Custom Fit 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 controlled better, you’ll experience greater stability and balance.
- Take care of your vision. Have your eyes checked regularly. 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.
ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics Offer Pain Relief
If painful foot conditions are impairing your mobility, consider ordering ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics. These custom orthotics provide the proper support your feet need. And they help reduce any stress and strain on your feet, knees, hips, and lower back.
ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics are ultra-thin and ¾ length, so they fit into a wide variety of footwear with ease. Plus, they come with a 90-day, money-back guarantee. So you have nothing to lose but your pain.
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.