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Walking cadence (steps/min) and intensity in 21-40 year olds: CADENCE-adults

Tudor-Locke, Catrine
Aguiar, Elroy J.
Han, Ho
Ducharme, Scott W.
Schuna, John M., Jr.
Barreira, Tiago V.
Moore, Christopher C.
Busa, Michael A.
Lim, Jongil
Sirard, John R.
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Background: Previous studies have reported that walking cadence (steps/min) is associated with absolutely-defined intensity (metabolic equivalents; METs), such that cadence-based thresholds could serve as reasonable proxy values for ambulatory intensities.
Purpose: To establish definitive heuristic (i.e., evidence-based, practical, rounded) thresholds linking cadence with absolutely-defined moderate (3 METs) and vigorous (6 METs) intensity.
Methods: In this laboratory-based cross-sectional study, 76 healthy adults (10 men and 10 women representing each 5-year age-group category between 21 and 40 years, BMI = 24.8 +/- 3.4 kg/m 2 ) performed a series of 5-min treadmill bouts separated by 2-min rests. Bouts began at 0.5 mph and increased in 0.5 mph increments until participants: 1) chose to run, 2) achieved 75% of their predicted maximum heart rate, or 3) reported a Borg rating of perceived exertion > 13. Cadence was hand-tallied, and intensity (METs) was measured using a portable indirect calorimeter. Optimal cadence thresholds for moderate and vigorous ambulatory intensities were identified using a segmented regression model with random coefficients, as well as Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) models. Positive predictive values (PPV) of candidate heuristic thresholds were assessed to determine final heuristic values.
Results: Optimal cadence thresholds for 3 METs and 6 METs were 102 and 129 steps/min, respectively, using the regression model, and 96 and 120 steps/min, respectively, using ROC models. Heuristic values were set at 100 steps/min (PPV of 91.4%), and 130 steps/min (PPV of 70.7%), respectively.
Conclusions: Cadence thresholds of 100 and 130 steps/min can serve as reasonable heuristic thresholds representative of absolutely-defined moderate and vigorous ambulatory intensity, respectively, in 21-40 year olds. These values represent useful proxy values for recommending and modulating the intensity of ambulatory behavior and/or as measurement thresholds for processing accelerometer data.