Enter your details:
Thank you for subscribing.
Subscribe to our newsletter!

Davor Sentija1, Vesna Babic2, Lucija Kolic2

1University of Zagreb, Faculty of Kinesiology, Department of Kinesiological Anthropology and Methodology, Zagreb, Croatia
2University of Zagreb, Faculty of Kinesiology, Department of Sport Kinesiology, Zagreb, Croatia

Gait Transition Speed and the Aerobic Thresholds for Walking and Running in Women

Sport Mont 2019, 17(3), 47-51 | DOI: 10.26773/smj.191006


Recently, it has been shown that the preferred transition speed between walking and running (PTS) in men does not differ from the aerobic thresholds (AT) for both walking (ATw) and running (ATr). The PTS in men was also found to be related to ATr, but not for ATw (Sentija & Markovic, 2009). No study has, to the best of our knowledge, examined these relationships in female subjects. Men and women show no significant gender differences in the gait transition speed, although women have a lower aerobic capacity (VO2max) than men do. Therefore, the present study aimed to explore the relationship between ATw, ATr, and the PTS in young, healthy women. Eleven female PE students (19.5+/-0.5y, 169.4+/-5.7cm) performed five treadmill tests: 1) to determine the individual PTS, 2-3) two fast ramp treadmill tests, running in one (VO2max test) and walking in the other, 4-5) two incremental tests with 4-min stages, walking in one and running in the other, in order to determine steady-state VO2 at speeds below and above PTS (5-9 km/h). The AT in ramp tests were determined from gas exchange data (V-slope method). The ATr was similar (7.34+/-0.52 km/h) to PTS (7.21+/-0.27 km/h, p>.05), while ATw was significantly lower (6.64+/-0.47 km/h, p<.001). The PTS was significantly correlated with both ATr (r=0.77) and ATw (r=0.72). A high correlation was also present between ATr and ATw (r=0.80). Several findings in our study suggest significant gender differences in the PTS/AT relationship: 1) the ATw in female subjects was found to be significantly lower than both the ATr and PTS, suggesting that the speed at the aerobic threshold in women depends on the modality of gait, and 2) the ATw was significantly correlated to both, PTS and ATr suggesting that the ATw could also be a significant predictor of the PTS in young women. Our results indicate that the PTS and the AT in young women are similar to the values reported for young men. In young women, the PTS is highly related to ATr and, to a lesser degree, with the aerobic threshold for walking. Gender differences should be taken into consideration for the proper interpretation of the factors that determine the gait transition speed between walking and running.


gait transition speed, walking, running, ventilatory threshold

View full article
(PDF – 575KB)


Bramble, D.M., & Lieberman, D.E. (2004). Endurance running and the evolution of Homo. Nature, 432, 345–352.

Chumanov, E.S., Wall-Scheffler, C., & Heiderscheit, B.C. (2008). Gender differences in walking and running on level and inclined surfaces. Clinical Biomechanics, 23, 1260–1268.

Di Prampero, P.E. (1986). The energy cost of human locomotion on land and in water. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 7, 55–72.

Fessler, D.M., Haley, K.J., & Lal, R.D. (2005). Sexual dimorphism in foot length proportionate to stature. Annals of Human Biology, 32, 44–59.

Hagberg, J.M., Coyle, E.F. (1983). Physiological determinants of endurance performance as studied in competitive racewalkers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; 15, 287–289.

Hreljac, A. (1993a). Determinants of the gait transition speed during human locomotion: Kinetic factors. Gait & Posture, 1, 217–223.

Hreljac, A. (1993b). Preferred and energetically optimal gait transition speeds in human locomotion. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 25(10), 1158-62.

Hreljac, A. (1995a). Determinants of the gait transition speed during human locomotion: Kinematic factors. Journal of Biomechanics, 28, 669–677.

Hreljac, A. (1995b). Effects of physical characteristics on the gait transition speed during human locomotion. Human Movement Science, 14, 205–216.

Kram, R., Domingo, A., & Ferris, D.P. (1997). Effect of reduced gravity on the preferred walk-run transition speed. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 200, 821–826.

Kung, S.M., Fink, P.W., Legg, S.J., Ali, A., & Shultz, S.P. (2018). What factors determine the preferred gait transition speed in humans? A review of the triggering mechanisms. Human Movement Science, 57, 1–12.

Margaria, R., Cerretelli, P., Aghemo, P., & Sassi, G. (1963). Energy cost of running. J Appl Physiol, 18(2), 367-370.

Malcolm, P., Segers, V., Van Caekenberghe, I., & De Clercq, D. (2009). Experimental study of the influence of the M. tibialis anterior on the walk-to-run transition by means of a powered ankle-foot exoskeleton. Gait & Posture, 29, 6–10.

Mercier, J., Le Gallais, D., Durand, M., Goudal, C., Micallef, J.P., & Prefaut, C. (1994). Energy expenditure and cardiorespiratory responses at the transition between walking and running. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 69, 525–529.

Minetti, A.E., Ardigo, L.P., & Saibene, F. (1994). The transition between walking and running in humans: Metabolic and mechanical aspects at different gradients. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 150, 315–323.

Neptune, R.R., & Sasaki, K. (2005). Ankle plantar flexor force production is an important determinant of the preferred walk-to-run transition speed. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 208, 799–808.

Prilutsky, B.I., & Gregor, R.J. (2001). Swing - and support-related muscle actions differentially trigger human walk-run and run walk transitions. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 204, 2277–2287.

Raynor, A.J., Yi, C.J., Abernethy, B., & Jong, Q.J. (2002). Are transitions in human gait determined by mechanical, kinetic or energetic factors? Human Movement Science, 21, 785–805.

Saibene, F., & Minetti, A.E., (2003). Biomechanical and physiological aspects of legged locomotion in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 88, 297–316.

Sasaki, K., & Neptune, R.R. (2006). Muscle mechanical work and elastic energy utilization during walking and running near the preferred gait transition speed. Gait & Posture, 23, 383–390.

Schieb, D.A. (1986). Kinematic accommodation of novice treadmill runners. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 57, 1–7.

Schneider, D.A. (1993). The simplified V-slope method of detecting the gas exchange threshold. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 25(10), 1180-4.

Segers, V., Lenoir, M., Aerts, P., & De Clercq, D. (2007). Influence of M. tibialis anterior fatigue on the walk-to-run and run-to-walk transition in non-steady state locomotion. Gait & Posture, 25, 639–647.

Sentija, D., & Markovic, G. (2009). The relationship between gait transition speed and the aerobic thresholds for walking and running. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 30, 795–801.

Sentija, D., Rakovac, M., & Babić, V. (2012). Anthropometric characteristics and gait transition speed in human locomotion. Human Movement Science, 31, 672-682.

Smith, L.K., Lelas, J.L., & Kerrigan, D.C. (2002). Gender differences in pelvic motions and center of mass displacement during walking: Stereotypes quantified. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-based Medicine, 11, 453–458.

Turvey, M.T., Holt, K.G., LaFiandra, M.E., & Fonseca, S.T. (1999). Can the transitions to and from running and the metabolic cost of running be determined from the kinetic energy of running? Journal of Motor Behavior, 31, 265–278.