Gait is an important health indicator, relating strongly to the risk of falling, morbidity and mortality. In a community-dwelling population, we investigated associations of alcohol, coffee and tobacco consumption with gait.
Two thousand forty-six non-demented participants from the Rotterdam Study underwent gait assessment by electronic walkway. We measured gait velocity and Global Gait, which is the average of seven gait domains: Rhythm, Phases, Variability, Pace, Tandem, Turning and Base of Support. Alcohol, coffee and tobacco consumption was assessed by questionnaires. With analysis of covariance, we investigated associations of consumption of alcoholic beverages, coffee consumption and smoking with Global Gait, gait velocity and the seven individual gait domains.
In all, 81.9% of participants drank alcohol, 92.4% drank coffee, 17.3% were current smokers and 50.9% were past smokers. Moderate alcohol consumption (1–3 glasses per day) associated with better gait, as measured by Global Gait (0.20 standard deviations (s.d.) (95% confidence interval: 0.10; 0.31)), gait velocity (2.65 cm/s (0.80; 4.50)), Rhythm and Variability. Consuming high amounts of coffee (43 cups per day) associated with better Global Gait (0.18 s.d. (0.08; 0.28)), gait velocity (2.63 cm/s (0.80; 4.45)), Pace, Turning and Variability. Current smoking associated with worse Global Gait (−0.11 s.d. (−0.21; 0.00)), gait velocity (−3.47 cm/s (−5.33; − 1.60)), Rhythm and Pace, compared with non-smokers.
In a community-dwelling population, consuming >1 cup of coffee and 1–3 glasses of alcohol relate to better gait, whereas smoking is related to worse gait. Further studies are required to evaluate whether interventions targeting substance consumption may aid to prevent or reduce gait deterioration and thereby related health problems.