A new technique for simultaneous monitoring of electrocardiogram and walking cadence

Jeffrey M. Hausdorff, Daniel E. Forman, David M. Pilgrim, David R. Rigney, Jeanne Y. Wei*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new technique for simultaneously recording continuous electrocardiographic (ECG) data and walking step rate (cadence) is described. The ECG and gait signals are recorded on 2 channels of an ambulatory Hotter monitor. Footfall is detected using ultrathin, force-sensitive foot switches and is frequency modulated. The footfall signal provides an indication of the subject's activity (walking or standing), as well as the instantaneous walking rate. Twenty-three young and elderly subjects were studied to demonstrate the use of this ECG and gait recorder. High-quality gait signals were obtained in all subjects, and the effects of walking on the electrocardiogram were assessed. Initial investigation revealed the following findings: (1) Although walking rates were similar in young and elderly subjects, the elderly had both decreased heart rate (HR) variability (p < 0.005) and increased cadence variability (p < 0.0001). (2) Overall, there was an inverse relation between HR and cadence variability (r = -0.73). Three elderly subjects with no known cardiac disease had HR and cadence variability similar to those of the young, whereas elderly subjects with history of congestive heart failure were among those with the lowest HR variability and the highest cadence variability. (3) Low-frequency (≅0.1 Hz) HR oscillations (frequently observed during standing) persisted during walking in all young subjects. (4) In some subjects, both step rate and HR oscillated at the same low frequency (≅0.1 Hz) previously identified with autonomic control of the baroreflex. The modified Holter monitor enabled enhanced evaluation of the relation between the electrocardiogram and walking; it should augment assessment of conventional ECG measures, because changes in HR, ischemia, arrhythmias and HR variability can now be correlated wtth physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1064-1071
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 15 Oct 1992
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Biomedical Engineering and PhysicsC ore Facility of the Harvard Division on Agingl-P30-AG-08812-01
National Institutes of HealthDA06306
National Institute on Drug AbuseNkG2-5 14
National Institute on AgingP30AG008812, l-ROl-HL42172
National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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