Normal walking speed: a descriptive meta-analysis

Physiotherapy. 2011 Sep;97(3):182-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 May 11.


Background: Walking speed has implications for community functioning and is predictive of important outcomes. Determining whether an individual's walking speed is limited requires normal values for comparison.

Objectives: To use meta-analysis to describe normal gait speed for healthy individuals within age and gender strata.

Data sources: PubMed, the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL), Scopus, Science Citation Index and articles identified by hand searches.

Study selection criteria: Inclusion required that the gait speed of apparently healthy adults was documented as they walked at a normal pace over a course of 3 to 30 m. Summary data were excluded unless obtained from at least 10 participants within a gender and decade stratum.

Study appraisal and synthesis methods: The two authors independently reviewed articles and extracted data. Accuracy was confirmed by the other author. Data were grouped within gender and decade strata. A meta-analysis macro was used to consolidate data by strata and to determine homogeneity.

Results: Forty-one articles contributed data to the analysis. Combined, they provided data from 23111 subjects. The gait speed was homogeneous within strata and ranged from a mean of 143.4 cm/second for men aged 40 to 49 years to a mean of 94.3 cm/second for women aged 80 to 99 years.

Limitations: The data presented herein may not be useful as a standard of normal if gait is measured over short distances from the command 'go' or if a turn is involved.

Conclusions and implications: The consolidation of data from multiple studies reported in this meta-analysis provides normative data that can serve as a standard against which individuals can be compared. Doing so will aid the interpretation of their performance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / standards*
  • Reference Values
  • Walking / physiology*