Gender differences in dual task gait performance in older adults.
Although attention-dividing dual tasks hinder gait performance in older persons, gender differences in gait have not been examined. The purpose of this study was to examine whether gait performance differs between older men and women during dual task walking. A total of 44 healthy adults (20 men and 24 women) aged 65 years or older participated in the study. Participants walked under normal and dual task (backward spelling) conditions at self-selected speeds. Mean gait speed and stride-to-stride variability in gait speed were quantified with GAITRite( ®) instrumentation. Whereas gait speed decreased and variability in gait speed increased in both groups during dual task walking, men walked with greater variability during dual task walking than did women. The magnitude of the increase in variability in gait speed observed in men indicates that stride-to-stride variability in gait speed during dual task walking requires more investigation as a potential risk factor for falls in older men.