Speed and Distance Requirements for Community Ambulation: A Systematic Review Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To provide an overview of the research literature on distance and speed requirements for adults to walk outside the home. DATA SOURCES: We conducted a systematic review and searched PubMed, MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, PEDro, and The Cochrane Library from 1948 to May 2012, and other sources. Search terms included communities, walk, ambulation, and neighborhood. STUDY SELECTION: Full-text peer-reviewed articles written in English, French, or Spanish reporting distance and/or speed requirements for individuals walking outside the home were considered eligible. Two authors independently screened titles and abstracts. One author reviewed full-text articles to determine inclusion. Of the 3191 titles and abstracts screened, 15 studies (.47%) were selected for detailed review. One author appraised methodological quality. Inadequate description of the reliability of the measurement methods and the population of the town/city assessed was noted. DATA EXTRACTION: One author extracted data from included studies. A second reviewer independently verified extracted data for accuracy. DATA SYNTHESIS: Seven studies examining 24 community sites and crosswalks in the United States, Australia, and Singapore were included. Three sites with the largest mean distance requirements for adults to walk were club warehouses (677m), superstores (183-607m), and hardware stores (566m). Three sites with the lowest mean distance requirements were walking at the front (16m) and back (19m) of the house, and at cemeteries (18m). The average speed required to cross the street in the time of a walk signal varied from .44 to 1.32m/s. CONCLUSIONS: Distance and speed requirements for adults to walk in the community environment vary widely. Findings are relevant to judging capacity for community ambulation to carry out essential activities of daily living, educating patients, and setting rehabilitation goals.


  • Salbach, Nancy M
  • O'Brien, Kelly
  • Brooks, Dina
  • Irvin, Emma
  • Martino, Rosemary
  • Takhar, Pam
  • Chan, Sylvia
  • Howe, Jo-Anne

publication date

  • January 2014