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  1. Mehmet, Hanife BSc
  2. Robinson, Stephen R. PhD
  3. Yang, Angela Wei Hong PhD


Background and Purpose: Gait speed is an important measure of functional ability and has been widely used in older adults as an indicator of frailty. However, the diversity in measurement protocols in clinical settings creates variability in outcome measures. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature relating to the measurement of gait speed in older adults, to propose a protocol suitable for use in clinical and community settings.


Methods: A total of 5 electronic English databases were searched (PubMed, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus) using key words and synonyms related to gait speed.


Results: Fifty relevant articles were identified, with variability being found between studies in the essential elements (timing device, walking distance, timing points, use of walking aids, pace of performance, and total tests recorded) of gait measurement. The majority of studies used unspecified timing devices while others used electronic gait mats or infrared beams linked to electronic stopwatches. Walking distance was assessed over distances between 2.4 and 15 m, with 4 m most commonly used. Most studies permitted the use of walking aids, with assessments being repeated at a usual pace, and the maximum value recorded in meters per second.


Conclusion: A standardized measurement protocol is proposed for measuring gait speed in older adults.