We examined a behavioral mechanism of how increases in leg strength improve healthy old adults′ gait speed. Leg press strength training improved maximal leg press load 40% (p = 0.001) and isometric strength in 5 group of leg muscles 32% (p = 0.001) in a randomly allocated intervention group of healthy old adults (age 74, n = 15) but not in no-exercise control group (age 74, n = 8). Gait speed increased similarly in the training (9.9%) and control (8.6%) groups (time main effect, p = 0.001). However, in the training group only, in line with the concept of biomechanical plasticity of aging gait, hip extensors and ankle plantarflexors became the only significant predictors of self-selected and maximal gait speed. The study provides the first behavioral evidence regarding a mechanism of how increases in leg strength improve healthy old adults′ gait speed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas