Slow walkers beware: A slow pace may already be a sign of "accelerated aging" in adults over the age of 40, while those who walk naturally faster may have younger brains and bodies, a new study suggests Anyone can easily measure.
Doctors know that slowing older people's health may indicate poor health, but the new study, published last week in the JAMA Network Open, looked at 45-year-old slow runners as showing signs of physical and physical well-being would show mental decline.
Gait speed is intriguing because it provides so many clues to a human's health at a young age, said lead author Line Jee Hartmann Rasmussen, a postdoctoral researcher in aging at Duke University.
Interestingly, walking seems to be so easy, but it requires the function and interplay of many different organ systems, "said Rasmussen TODAY.
"You need your lungs to function, you need your brain w Ell functioning, your nervous system, your muscles, your aerobic capacity. That's why it's a good indicator of good health.
She and her colleagues examined data from Dunedin's multidisciplinary health and development study, which followed more than 1
Researchers estimated their rate of aging based on 19 health features – including body mass index, blood pressure -, fitness level, cholesterol levels and other measures – plus facial aging.
They also took into account participants' brain scans and the results of their IQ, memory and learning tests.
The study then compared people with the slowest average walking speed – about 3.9 feet per second – for those with the highest average walking speed – about 5.7 feet per second.
It turned out that the walking speed was slower at 4 5 was already associated with a poorer physical and cognitive function and an accelerated rate of aging.
Slower strollers showed "more rapid deterioration of multiple organ systems" and signs of "impaired structural brain integrity," including a lower total brain volume than their faster-going counterparts. Their faces also seemed to age faster.
It is rather unconventional for mid-life people to go through a gait speed test right now, but given the results, this could be an extra step to health testing, Rasmussen said.
] "It could be very simple because it is such a simple measure. It costs nothing, is not invasive – you do not need to do a blood test or anything like that. It's just how fast you go, "she remarked.
How to measure your own walking speed:
- Take two pieces of tape and mark a certain distance, say 6 feet or nearly 20 feet, which corresponds to the length used in this study.
- Walk this distance at your usual pace while measuring how many seconds you'll need with a stopwatch.
- Divide the distance (20 feet in this example) by the time result that you receive a certain number of feet per second.
What This Means
In an accompanying commentary to the study, one expert suggested that a walking speed of at least 3.6 feet per second should be an "intersection point" that potentially means a person in his forties may need intervention to prevent disability and dementia later in life.
"Gait speed is a simple, inexpensive indicator of well-being in adulthood. Let's take care and use it, "wrote Dr. Stephanie Studenski, a geriatrician at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh.
Just going faster is not a solution for people who are naturally slower, Rasmussen said. At the same time, they are not necessarily condemned to health problems just because they are slower, she added.
It may only be an incentive to focus on better behaviors such as no smoking and healthy eating. Regular diet and exercise to get good results later.
"If you lead a healthier life and have healthier organs and body functions, you're probably in the group of faster goers," said Rasmussen.