Effects of state anxiety on gait: a 7.5% carbon dioxide challenge study

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We used the 7.5% carbon dioxide (CO2) model of anxiety induction to investigate the effects of state anxiety on normal gait and gait when navigating an obstacle. Healthy volunteers (n = 22) completed a walking task during inhalations of 7.5% CO2 and medical air (placebo) in a within-subjects design. The order of inhalation was counterbalanced across participants and the gas was administered double-blind. Over a series of trials, participants walked the length of the laboratory, with each trial requiring participants to navigate through an aperture (width adjusted to participant size), with gait parameters measured via a motion capture system. The main findings were that walking speed was slower, but the adjustment in body orientation was greater, during 7.5% CO2 inhalation compared to air. These findings indicate changes in locomotor behaviour during heightened state anxiety that may reflect greater caution when moving in an agitated state. Advances in sensing technology offer the opportunity to monitor locomotor behaviour, and these findings suggest that in doing so we may be able to infer emotional states from movement in naturalistic settings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Research
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health


  • Gait
  • Anxiety
  • 7.5% carbon dioxide


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