Research:The energy of Walking


BACKGROUND: Energy cost of walking (C(w)) is elevated in MSers, perhaps because of gait impairment, and may impact daily activity and fatigue.

OBJECTIVE: The authors examined for associations between C(w), spatiotemporal gait parameters, daily activity, and perceived fatigue in persons with mild MS.

METHODS: 44 participants completed 4 trials of walking on a GAITRite mat (measures how you walk and detect your foot steps) and one 6-minute trial of walking on a treadmill at a constant, controlled speed of 54 meters per min, while exhaled gases were analyzed for oxygen consumption. Participants also completed the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and wore a waist-mounted accelerometer for 7 days.

RESULTS: C(w) was significantly and inversely associated with gait speed (r = -.25) and stride length (r = -.32) and positively associated with double limb support (r = .27). C(w) was significantly and inversely associated with daily accelerometer activity counts (r = -.35) and positively associated with FSS scores (ρ = .31).

CONCLUSION: The results support the development and application of rehabilitation strategies to address impaired gait parameters as an approach to improve C(w), daily activities, and fatigue.

“This study indicates that there were higher costs of energy in walking if you swing your legs less and have a smaller stride and is less if there is limb support and you are less fatigued. The r value (-1 or 1 is strong and 0 is nothing) is quite weak indicating that the correlations were not that strong. Does your physiotherapist assess your gait using a device such as GAITRite? They are not widely available in the UK.”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • Does physiotherapy and other such rehab help MSers?
    For example, with walking more efficiently, handwriting/typing, etc

  • Re: "Does physiotherapy and other such rehab help MSers?
    For example, with walking more efficiently, handwriting/typing, etc"

    Definitely; when you have a lesion in a neuronal pathway that affects your ability to do a specific task the brain recovers by adapting. It opens new pathways and asks other pathways to take on new roles. To do this the brain has to re-learn and memorise how to old tasks with new central wiring. This takes practice and effort. Physiotherapy helps with both of these.

  • Re your comment about the 'wheels coming off' university funding etc – didn't take long, did it? How myopic can some people be, and should hey have that much power and influence over other peoples' lives?!

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