Walking difficulty, walking speed, and age as predictors of self-rated health: The women's health and aging study

M. Jylhä, J. M. Guralnik, J. Balfour, L. P. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Older persons reporting disability are more likely to report poor self-rated health, but little work has been done to assess the independent relationships of reported walking difficulty and measured walking performance with self-rated health. This study examines the associations of walking difficulty, walking speed, and age with self-rated health in older women. Methods. The data are from the baseline of the Women's Health and Aging Study. Difficulty walking one quarter mile was used as a measure of mobility in the representative population aged 65 and older screened for the study (n = 3841) and in the one third most disabled study group (n = 1002). Maximal walking speed was measured in the study sample. Results. Increasing severity of walking difficulty (in the screened population and in the disabled study group), slower walking speed (in the study group), and younger age were all associated with fair or poor self-rated health, after simultaneous adjustment for these and other objective measures of physical performance and health. The associations of both measures of walking with self-rated health weakened with age. Conclusions. Both walking difficulty and walking speed are independent determinants of self-rated health. Adjusted for health and functioning, self-rated health tends to improve with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M609-M617
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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