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Walk slow, age fast: Healthspan linked to walking speed

Walk slow, age fast: Healthspa...
A study suggests slow gait at the age of 45 may be a sign of accelerated aging
A study suggests slow gait at the age of 45 may be a sign of accelerated aging
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A study suggests slow gait at the age of 45 may be a sign of accelerated aging
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A study suggests slow gait at the age of 45 may be a sign of accelerated aging

Gait speed, or the pace at which a person walks, has long been effectively used as a biomarker for neurological and physiological health in older subjects. A fascinating new study is for the first time suggesting that gait speed may also be an effective measure of biological aging for someone in their 40s.

“Doctors know that slow walkers in their seventies and eighties tend to die sooner than fast walkers their same age,” explains senior author Terrie Moffitt. “But this study covered the period from the preschool years to midlife, and found that a slow walk is a problem sign decades before old age.”

The data used in the research comes from the influential longitudinal study known as the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. This study has been closely following a single cohort of subjects since birth in the early 1970s. All 904 subjects, currently aged 45, were measured for gait speed.

The researchers were testing two hypotheses, whether middle-age gait speed could reflect early signs of accelerated biological aging, and whether slow middle-age gait speed could be linked to poor neurocognitive functioning in childhood.

The study revealed a distinct correlation between slower gait speed and physical and biological indicators of accelerated aging. The slowest quintile of walkers at age 45 displayed structural brain changes, such as lower total brain volume and lower mean cortical thickness. This suggests gait speed is not only a marker of decline for geriatric subjects but can also signify accelerated biological aging for middle-aged subjects.

The study also uncovered a correlation between neurocognitive testing at the age of three and gait speed at the age of 45. This association was strong enough to be able to use cognitive scores from testing in childhood to accurately predict a person’s walking speed 40 years later.

The study data is not without its limitations. Unfortunately, the Dunedin study has no brain imaging or gait speed data from the subjects at younger ages. This means there is no clear longitudinal data tracking changes in gait speed from adolescence to adulthood. It is also unclear exactly what causal mechanism could be linking childhood neurocognitive functioning and midlife gait speed.

From a clinical perspective the research suggests gait speed may be a useful indicator of health concerns in middle-aged adults, and this isn’t the only study to use gait as a novel diagnostic tool. Recent research revealed gait analysis can identify different types of dementia in the early stages of cognitive decline, and even detect glaucoma before symptoms of visual deterioration appear.

The new study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Source: Duke Today

12 comments
guzmanchinky
If this is true I will live to 200. My wife is always reminding me to slow down and we walk 2 miles per day at least.
Nobody
No mention of type A or B personalities? I have always walked slowly. It is probably in rebellion against people always trying to get me to hurry up to do unimportant or uninteresting things.
BlueOak
Hah!, I'm now in the upper '50's and have been "accused" of walking too fast for most of my life... hopefully, a long and healthy life awaits! <<<I detest the way ATLAS commenting compresses paragraphs in to a single kludge!>>> Other long life associations: - Dog owner? Check. - Married? 30 years and counting. - Moderate alcohol intake? Check. - Life long non-smoker? Check. - Moderate BMI? Working on it. ;-)
mike085
This is great news for me. I'm always walking much faster than most people I'm with. Constantly walking ahead, then waiting for them to catch up, then walking ahead. It's a struggle to try and walk at the slow pace many others walk at. It requires like a weird half-step to shuffle slowly.
Douglas Rogers
How does walking speed vary as a function of body type?
Kpar
OK, it sounds like I'm stuck in Limbo. I always "power walked" through my 40s and into my 50s, but I now walk my Yorkshire Terrier (off leash) so now I walk at a snail's pace (relatively speaking). So where do I fit?
MD
Kpar, Get a different Dog, that shuffle will be the death of you. ...lol...
Albert L
Using an athletic chest strap heart rate monitor I realized other than jogging uphill, no exercise raised my heartbeat too much. Not lifting weights, riding a bike, walking on level ground. So now I jog a little on level ground to warm up, then walk, then jog uphill for about a minute to get near maximum heart rate, then jog home on level ground for about 13 minutes total 3x per week. Doing this since my 40's and 61 now and it is still easy. Not letting it slide more than a day or two off is critical. Seems those that can run may do the best. search "100-year-old and 102-year-old runners break world records" Eating a leaf that contains cbd before bed seems to cure the pain that was becomming a problem. Thank you, California. Oh yes I eat vegan except on weekends most the time. Corn chips with refried beans and a variety of veggies like chopped spinach, tomato paste, penut butter made into a dip is filling and tasty. I also sometimes fast until night or longer here and there as best I can. That is the hardest part of my routine. Dad passed with cancer at 70, Mom Alzheimer's... so.... I have my reasons!
usugo
if that was the case, I would be dead by now. I also was estimated to be ten years younger by someone recently
b@man
Is their anyone who didn't know this through common sense? What passes for "science" today is laughable:)