What did the study find?
Researchers analysed the gait-speed of hundreds of middle-aged participants and found that there was an average difference of 16 IQ points between the slowest and fastest walkers in the 45 years old age bracket, and that those who walked slower were found to show signs of accelerated ageing. Their lungs, teeth and immune systems reportedly showed more signs of age than those who walk fast.
The participants also underwent MRI scans of their brains, and it was discovered that slow walkers aged 45 years had lower brain volume.
How long was the study?
The participants in this study were actually tracked from ages three years old to 45 years of age and underwent testing each year.
“In this 5-decade cohort study of 904 participants in New Zealand, physical and biological indicators of accelerated aging, including compromised brain integrity (eg, reduced brain volume and cortical thickness), were associated with slow gait measured at age 45 years,” wrote the researchers.
“Lifelong compromised brain health—including poor neurocognitive functioning as early as age 3 years and childhood-to-adulthood decline in cognitive functioning—was associated with slower gait at midlife.”
What does it all mean?
The US researchers behind the study, from Duke University in North Carolina, now hypthesise that slow gait could be an early indicator of dementia, writing:
“Slow gait was also associated with multiple indices of compromised structural brain integrity, including smaller total brain volume, global cortical thinning, and reduced total surface area.27 Slow gait was associated with the volume of white matter hyperintensities, which is associated with cognitive decline and dementia.”
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Did you know fast walkers could potentially live up to 20 years longer than slow walkers? Watch the video below for more info.