Cadence (steps/min) and relative intensity in 61 to 85-year-olds: the CADENCE-Adults study

Cayla R. McAvoy, Taavy A. Miller, Elroy J. Aguiar, Scott W. Ducharme, Christopher C. Moore, John M. Schuna, Tiago V. Barreira, Colleen J. Chase, Zachary R. Gould, Marcos A. Amalbert-Birriel, Stuart R. Chipkin, John Staudenmayer, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Agnes Bucko, Jose Mora-Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: We previously demonstrated that a heuristic (i.e., evidence-based, rounded yet practical) cadence threshold of ≥ 100 steps/min was associated with absolutely-defined moderate intensity physical activity (i.e., ≥ 3 metabolic equivalents [METs]) in older adults 61–85 years of age. Although it was difficult to ascertain achievement of absolutely-defined vigorous (6 METs) intensity, ≥ 130 steps/min was identified as a defensible threshold for this population. However, little evidence exists regarding cadence thresholds and relatively-defined moderate intensity indicators, including ≥ 64% heart rate [HR] maximum [HRmax = 220-age], ≥ 40% HR reserve [HRR = HRmax-HRresting], and ≥ 12 Borg Scale Rating of Perceived Exertion [RPE]; or vigorous intensity indicators including ≥ 77%HRmax, ≥ 60%HRR, and ≥ 14 RPE. Purpose: To analyze the relationship between cadence and relatively-defined physical activity intensity and identify relatively-defined moderate and vigorous heuristic cadence thresholds for older adults 61–85 years of age. Methods: Ninety-seven ostensibly healthy adults (72.7 ± 6.9 years; 49.5% women) completed up to nine 5-min treadmill walking bouts beginning at 0.5 mph (0.8 km/h) and progressing by 0.5 mph speed increments (with 2-min rest between bouts). Directly-observed (and video-recorded) steps were hand-counted, HR was measured using a chest-strapped monitor, and in the final minute of each bout, participants self-reported RPE. Segmented mixed model regression and Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analyses identified optimal cadence thresholds associated with relatively-defined moderate (≥ 64%HRmax, ≥ 40%HRR, and ≥ 12 RPE) and vigorous (≥ 77%HRmax, ≥ 60%HRR, and ≥ 14 RPE) intensities. A compromise between the two analytical methods, including Youden’s Index (a sum of sensitivity and specificity), positive and negative predictive values, and overall accuracy, yielded final heuristic cadences. Results: Across all relatively-defined moderate intensity indicators, segmented regression models and ROC curve analyses identified optimal cadence thresholds ranging from 105.9 to 112.8 steps/min and 102.0-104.3 steps/min, respectively. Comparable values for vigorous intensity indicators ranged between126.1-132.1 steps/min and 106.7–116.0 steps/min, respectively. Regardless of the relatively-defined intensity indicator, the overall best heuristic cadence threshold aligned with moderate intensity was ≥ 105 steps/min. Vigorous intensity varied between ≥ 115 (greater sensitivity) or ≥ 120 (greater specificity) steps/min. Conclusions: Heuristic cadence thresholds align with relatively-defined intensity indicators and can be useful for studying and prescribing older adults’ physiological response to, and/or perceived experience of, ambulatory physical activity. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02650258. Registered 24 December 2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number141
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Accelerometer
  • Exercise
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity
  • Stepping rate
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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