Can Older Women Self-Select Walking Speeds Congruent With Optimal Health Outcomes?
Clare Minahan, Michael Simmonds, Matthew Haycock, Norman Morris, Gregory Gass, Neil A. Smart
Background: We sought to determine if women (65–74 y) can self-select an exercise intensity during walking commensurate with current physical activity recommendations.
Methods: Thirteen healthy older women (age = 68 ± 3 y, body mass index = 25.7 ± 4.9 kg·m−2, peak O2 uptake = 24.1 ± 4.5 mL·kg−1·min−1) performed 4 30-min walking trials (2 × treadmill [TM], 2 × overground [OG]) in a counterbalanced, randomized order. For the first walking trials (i.e., TM1 and OG1), participants self-selected walking pace. Walking speed, heart rate (HR) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded. For the second trials for each mode (i.e., TM2 and OG2), walking speed was controlled to match speeds selected during TM1 and OG1, and pulmonary gas exchange, HR, and RPE were measured.
Results: Exercise intensity was within current guidelines: OG = 70% HRpeak, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 61–75%; TM = 66% HRpeak, 95% CI = 63–74%. Significant increases in HR and walking speed were observed during OG (HR P = 0.005, walking speed P = 0.001) compared with TM; O2 uptake during OG was significantly greater than TM for first 15 min exercise.
Conclusion: Healthy women can self-select intensity during walking commensurate with current physical activity recommendations.