Change in walking speed could signal risk of cognitive impairment
Published 13 July 2012
Slow walking pace or a change in stride could indicate a decline in cognitive function, according to a group of new research studies
The studies were presented at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference 2012.
Scientists at the Basel Mobility Center in Switzerland followed 1,153 people with an average age of 77 assessing their walking while they performed mental tasks. They found that people's walking speed slowed and varied as cognitive decline progressed.
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging looked at the stride, cadence and walking speed of 1,341 older people over 15 months. Researchers found that those with lower cadence, speed and changing stride experienced significantly larger decline in cognition and memory.
The Kurihara Project in Japan examined the link between walking and cognition in 525 people aged 75 and over. It found walking speed significantly decreased as severity of dementia symptoms increased.
Alzheimer's Society comment:
'These large studies add to existing evidence that the way people walk may change as cognition declines. That's not to say that people who prefer a slow stroll to a power walk should start to panic just yet though. Looking at walking could one day play a part in helping to diagnose dementia but we first need to take more steps to understand how it could be linked to the early signs of the condition.
'One in three people over 65 will develop dementia. However there are things people can do to reduce their risk. We recommend you eat a healthy balanced diet, don't smoke, maintain a healthy weight, take regular exercise; and get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly.'
Dr Anne Corbett
Research Reference: 'New Research indicates gait changes could signal increased risk for cognitive impairment' by Bridenbaugh, Ikram, Savica, Silbert, Meguro et al at Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2012
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