Korean Society of Exercise Rehabilitation
Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research / School of Medical and Health Sciences
The neuromechanical reorganization required to change gaits imposes an energetic cost 75% greater than either a walking or running step at the same speed. By combining walking and running with the requisite gait switching transition steps, an exercise protocol can be generated with virtually any desired metabolic output even at relatively slow treadmill speed. Gait switching increases metabolic demand through discrete events, which can be tolerated more easily by individuals recovering from health problems, just as interval training allows greater work production for healthy individuals. In addition to cardio-respiratory benefits, ‘mini-intervals’ with frequent gait switching also provides positive effects and attributes such as distributing muscle group activation, re-training neural coordination, and avoiding repetitive joint overloading. It has the added benefit of developing stability during transitions while a safety hand rail is present which can lead to greater stability in more complex natural environments. Finally, increased mental focus may help avoid the monotony of usual treadmill workouts, aiding adherence to an exercise program. We review evidence for the cost increase of the gait transition step and explain the mechanisms involved. We also discuss literature supporting the range of benefits for mini-interval gait switching as a training and rehabilitation tool.
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