Monday, October 21, 2013

Treadmill walking and watching TV with subtitles potentially gives greater gait stability

To be honest I am not a member of a gym and hence only treadmill walk when staying at a hotel with a gym. I could easily become a regular user of a treadmill as I enjoy the exercise and especially when there is music and television to hand. I do however struggle with headphones and take some time to adjust myself to be wired up and walking naturally. Never thought about the effects of listening to music or viewing television on human gait but was delighted to discover a study done by scientists at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh. They took a group of subjects in a two-part study to investigate walking involving music and television (TV). In the first part of the study seventeen able-bodied adults were asked to participate in three 15-minute walking trials: (1) without music, (2) with music and (3) without music again. In the second part, the same fifteen able-bodied adults walked on a treadmill for 15min while watching (1) TV with sound (2) TV without sound and (3) TV with subtitles but no sound. Gait timing was recorded via bilateral heel sensors and center-of-mass accelerations were measured by tri-axial accelerometers. Measures of statistical persistence, dynamic stability and gait variability were calculated. The results showed none of the considered gait measures were statistically different when comparing music with no-music trials. Therefore, walking to music did not appear to affect intrinsic walking dynamics in the able-bodied adult population. However, stride interval variability and stride interval dynamics were significantly greater in the TV with sound walking condition when compared to the TV with subtitles condition. Treadmill walking while watching TV with subtitles alters intrinsic gait dynamics but potentially offers greater gait stability.

Sejdić E, Findlay B, Merey C, Chau T. B 2013 The effects of listening to music or viewing television on human gait. Comput Biol Med 2013 Oct 1;43(10):1497-501.

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