Characteristics of preferred walking patterns in young Qatari adults
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Walking is the most natural and important activity of daily living as it refers to the primary type of terrestrial human locomotion. Analyses of gait patterns typically examine the speed and manner in which people prefer to walk. Even though humans can walk at speeds ranging from near 0 km/h to 9 km/h, they typically only use a very limited range of speeds around 4.5 km/h in their daily life (Bohannon & Andrews, 2011). The preferred walking speed (PWS) is used in clinical settings as an indicator of a person’s mobility. For example, elderly people, or those suffering from osteoarthritis prefer to walk at slower speeds. Therefore, improving their PWS is considered as a significant clinical goal. Many studies on gait analysis tried to identify the basic parameters of normal unconstrained gait in different populations. Despite the fundamental common shared characteristics, walking patterns may vary from a person to another according to several factors such as age, gender, physical characteristics, etc. In a study examining the “pace” of random pedestrians in 31 cities around the world, differences in the walking speed were found to be linked to parameters such as climate, economic variables, size of population and cities (Levine & Norenzayan, 1999). More recently, a study has put forward the impact of the cultural background on walking norms by revealing several significant differences in basic gait parameters between young Kuwaiti and Swedish adults (Al-Obaidi et al., 2003). Specifically, the authors presented the first evidence concerning walking patterns in a population from the Gulf region and proposed an interpretation to the found differences that is linked to traditional clothing and foot wear. This reveals the need for a specific normative database targeting healthy young Qataris. Creating such databases for Qatar is desirable for rehabilitation purposes for people with impaired walking patterns (e.g., elderly fallers, people suffering from stroke consequences, hemiplegia, Parkinson disease, etc). For instance, the aim of this study is to evaluate the preferred walking speed and manners in which young male and female Qatari adults walk as compared to non-Qatari participants with similar physical characteristics. To characterize walking patterns we used spatiotemporal kinematic indicators such as stride length, stride frequency and support phase duration. The associated physiological cost and perceived exertion of walking at a preferred pace will also be examined to test for possible differences. We expect to see differences between the preferred walking patterns of Qatari and non-Qatari participants as proposed by Al-Obaidi and collaborators (2003).