Predicting 3-year incident mobility disability in middle-aged and older adults using physical performance tests

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 May;94(5):994-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.10.032. Epub 2012 Nov 16.


Objective: To identify a standard physical performance test, which can predict 3-year incident mobility disability independent of demographics.

Design: Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting: Population-based middle-aged and older adult cohort assessment performed at a local geriatric clinical center.

Participants: Community-living middle-aged and older persons (age, 50-85y) without baseline mobility disability (N=622).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Mobility disability was ascertained at baseline and at 3-year follow-up using an established self-report method: self-reported inability to walk a quarter mile without resting or inability to walk up a flight of stairs unsupported. Physical performance tests included self-selected usual gait speed, time required to complete 5 times sit-to-stand (5TSTS), and 400-m brisk walking. Demographic variables age, sex, height, and weight were recorded.

Results: Overall, 13.5% participants reported 3-year incident mobility disability. Usual gait speed <1.2m/s, requiring >13.6 seconds to complete 5TSTS, and completing 400m at <1.19m/s walking speed were highly predictive of future mobility disability independent of demographics.

Conclusions: Inability to complete 5TSTS in <13.7 seconds can be a clinically convenient guideline for monitoring and for further assessment of middle-aged and older persons, in order to prevent or delay future mobility disability.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Self Report
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Walking*