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The way you walk could reveal more about your health than you think

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The way you walk could reveal more about your health than you think

Gait Analysis: What Your Walk Says About Your Health

The way you walk, known as your gait, can reveal a lot about your overall health and fitness. Each person’s gait is unique, but an abnormal gait, characterized by irregular movements, can indicate health issues such as illness, injury, genetics, or leg and foot problems.

In fact, gait is now considered a vital sign, alongside body temperature, pulse, respiration, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Vital signs provide critical information to assess and predict an individual’s health status, enabling proactive intervention to maintain health and safety.

According to a July 2018 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, gait assessment is important for predicting gross motor delays in children, risk of falls in older people, and even the risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. Gait analysis can also be useful in predicting sporting injuries and measuring fitness.

Health professionals analyze gait in various ways, from watching a person walk to using sophisticated technology such as cameras and sensors, and even artificial intelligence. Gait analysis not only provides valuable information about a person’s physical health but can also indicate underlying emotional issues, as a patient’s abrupt decline in walking speed and exercise sessions was found to be related to depression and the death of a loved one in a recent example.

While analyses of gait can be beneficial for individuals recovering from surgery or dealing with pain, they can also be useful for athletes looking to improve performance and prevent injuries. The cost of gait analysis varies but can provide valuable information to promote health and mobility.

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Experts agree that periodic gait analysis could be beneficial for everyone, and hope it will become more common in the future. As technology advances, gait analysis is becoming more widely accessible, with potential to become an integral part of health and recovery programs, and crucial to maintaining a good quality of life.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus, freelance writer specializing in hiking, travel, and fitness

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