What Cut-Point in Gait Speed Best Discriminates Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Mobility Complaints From Those Without? A Pooled Analysis From the Sarcopenia Definitions and Outcomes Consortium

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2021 Sep 13;76(10):e321-e327. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glab183.


Background: Cut-points to define slow walking speed have largely been derived from expert opinion.

Methods: Study participants (13 589 men and 5043 women aged ≥65years) had walking speed (m/s) measured over 4-6 m (mean ± SD: 1.20 ± 0.27 m/s in men and 0.94 ± 0.24 m/s in women.) Mobility limitation was defined as any self-reported difficulty with walking approximately 1/4 mile (prevalence: 12.6% men, 26.4% women). Sex-stratified classification and regression tree (CART) models with 10-fold cross-validation identified walking speed cut-points that optimally discriminated those who reported mobility limitation from those who did not.

Results: Among 5043 women, CART analysis identified 2 cut-points, classifying 4144 (82.2%) with walking speed ≥0.75 m/s, which we labeled as "fast"; 478 (9.5%) as "intermediate" (walking speed ≥0.62 m/s but <0.75 m/s); and 421 (8.3%) as "slow" (walking speed <0.62 m/s). Among 13 589 men, CART analysis identified 3 cut-points, classifying 10 001 (73.6%) with walking speed ≥1.00 m/s ("very fast"); 2901 (21.3%) as "fast" (walking speed ≥0.74 m/s but <1.00 m/s); 497 (3.7%) as "intermediate" (walking speed ≥0.57 m/s but <0.74 m/s); and 190 (1.4%) as "slow" (walking speed <0.57 m/s). Prevalence of self-reported mobility limitation was lowest in the "fast" or "very fast" (11% for men and 19% for women) and highest in the "slow" (60.5% in men and 71.0% in women). Rounding the 2 slower cut-points to 0.60 m/s and 0.75 m/s reclassified very few participants.

Conclusions: Cut-points in walking speed of approximately 0.60 m/s and 0.75 m/s discriminate those with self-reported mobility limitation from those without.

Keywords: Classification and regression trees; Gait speed; Mobility limitation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Sarcopenia*
  • Walking
  • Walking Speed*

Grant support