Date of Award


Document Type

Access Controlled Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Kevin D. Dames, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jacqueline Augustine, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ryan Fiddler, Ph.D.


Purpose The purpose of this study was to compare preferred walking speed (PWS) overground to PWS on a lower body positive pressure treadmill (LBPPT) at 100% and 50% bodyweight (BW). It was hypothesized that BW support would elicit a slower PWS when compared with the other walking conditions and that this PWS would correspond to the lowest cost of transport. Methods Preferred walking speed was determined for 15 apparently healthy adults (21.73 ± 2.01 years) overground and on the LBPPT with no BW support and with 50% BW support. Walking speeds were reported as absolute and relative (Froude) numbers for each condition. Energy expenditure and cost of transport were then determined from 5-minute trials of walking with 50% BW support at PWS and PWS ± 30%.

Results Energy expenditure ( increased with faster speeds. In contrast, cost of transport ( decreased with faster speeds. PWS at 100% BW was similar to overground, while both were less than the 50% BW condition. These differences in speed were consistent for both absolute (m.s-1) and relative (Froude) terms.

Conclusions Our results suggest that apparently healthy adults prefer to walk faster (absolute and relative) with BW support than without. However, PWS with BW support does not correspond to the lowest cost of transport. This suggests that BW support perturbs the ability to self-select a speed that minimizes the energy expended per distance traveled.