Elderly people walk at a slower speed and tire more quickly because of loss of strength and mass in leg muscles. Using computer simulations they found that these physiological changes explain the slower walking speed preferred by the elderly, and that a focus on building up these leg muscles may be the only effective way to improve elderly walking. Walking performance, measured in terms of energy efficiency - i.e. how far one can travel per calorie consumption - and walking speed, has been shown to decline as people get older. The reason for this decline is unknown as ageing produces a range of physiological changes which affect gait (a person's manner of walking), but are hard to study individually. ‘Improving other features such as joint flexibility or walking strategy than building muscles in the legs would not help normal elderly people to walk better.’ This decline in walking performance can lead to a less active lifestyle worsening the health of elderly people and is directly linked to a lower 10-year survival rate for people at age 75 . The findings of this study suggest that a focus on building up muscles in the legs may be the only effective way to improve elderly walking. In other words, improving other features such as joint flexibility or walking strategy would not help normal elderly people to walk better. The research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University used computer simulations to generate physiologically and physically plausible walking behaviors in order to predict how physiological changes affect gait. The computer model consisted of a musculoskeletal system, which was designed based on human physiology, and a neural controller, which drives the musculoskeletal system to generate behaviors and has demonstrated a state-of-the-art prediction level in previous works. The physiological causes of the declined walking performance were searched by selectively 'ageing' the neuro-musculo-skeletal properties of the model (for example, changes in body mass distribution, a range of joint motions, and neural transmission delay and noise), and only the aging in muscle properties resulted in a decline in walking performance. Given that this was a simulation study the results are based on assumptions that may limit its predictive capabilities as it simplifies the human locomotor system and relies on a hypothesized neural control circuitry. Seungmoon Song, the first author of the study said, "In the long term, we plan to extend the predictive capability of our neuromechanical simulation framework, for example, to analyze pathological gaits after stroke or spinal cord injury and to prescribe optimal treatment." Source: Eurekalert << Special Protein That Works To Extend Life Writing Down Traumatic Experiences Reduces Symptoms of Stres... >> Recommended Reading Walking As An Exercise People walk for many reasons ranging from pleasure to mental relaxation, finding solitude or for exercise. READ MORE Top 4 Trends in Walking for Health Busy from Monday to Friday? Don't find time or space to walk? Here are some interesting places to walk even in crowded cities, making it more fun and healthy. READ MORE Who Else Wants to Know How Walking Helps Heart and Brain? Walking early morning would improve your health as it helps heart and brain to function properly. Find more about its benefits for your body. READ MORE Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss A few extra steps a day are enough to keep you fit. READ MORE Body Types and Befitting Workouts Workout and diet which is well suited for a pear shaped body. READ MORE Diseases Related to Old Age Ageing is referred to the accumulation of changes that brings a person closer to death. READ MORE Dystonia Dystonia is a neurological condition in which the patient experiences involuntary muscle contractions. Understand the risk factors, causes & symptoms of dystonia & how it can be treated. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Find a Doctor Post-Nasal Drip Noscaphene (Noscapine) More News on: Diseases Related to Old AgeBody Types and Befitting WorkoutsWalking for Fitness and Weight LossWalking As An ExerciseDystoniaWho Else Wants to Know How Walking Helps Heart and Brain?