Your walking speed could indicate dementia, according to large, new study of nearly 17,000 adults over age 65

A slower walk as you grow older has always been a warning sign of growing weakness that could lead to falls and other disabilities, experts say. Emerging research in small groups of older people has also found that a slower gait from year to year can be an early sign of cognitive decline.

This may be due to its shrinkage right hippocampuswhich is the part of the brain associated with memory, according to studies.

However, not all signs of cognitive impairment predict future dementia – only 10% to 20% of people aged 65 and over with mild cognitive impairment or MCI develop dementia next year, according to National Institute on Aging. “In many cases, the symptoms of MCI can remain the same or even improve,” the institute said.

Now, a large, new study of nearly 17,000 adults over the age of 65 finds that people who walk about 5% slower or faster each year, while also showing signs of slower mental processing, are more likely to develop dementia. The study was published on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“These findings underscore the importance of gait in assessing the risk of dementia,” wrote author Taya Collyer, a researcher at the Peninsula Clinical School at Monash University in Victoria, Australia.

“Double fall” at higher risk

The new study followed a group of Americans over 65 and Australians over 70 for seven years. Every second year, subjects in the study were asked to take cognitive tests that measured total cognitive impairment, memory, processing speed, and verbal fluency.

Twice each year, individuals were asked to walk 3 meters or about 10 feet. The average of the two results was then calculated to determine the individual gait.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the highest risk of dementia was for “double-deaf people” or people who not only walked more slowly but also showed signs of cognitive impairment, said Dr. Joe Verghese, a professor of geriatrics and neurology. at Albert Einstein Medical College in the Bronx, New York, who did not participate in the study.

“In addition, patients with double decay had a higher risk of dementia than those with gait or cognitive impairment alone,” Verghese wrote in an accompanying article published Tuesday in JAMA magazine.

A dual correlation between walking speed and memory loss is predictive of later dementia, a Meta-analysis 2020 of the nearly 9,000 adult Americans found.

However, despite these findings, “gait impairment has not been considered an early clinical feature in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” Verghese wrote.

Exercise can help

There are things we can do as we age to reverse the shrinkage of the brain that accompanies typical aging. Studies have found that aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampusincreasing some aspects of memory.

Buried deep in the temporal lobe of the brain, the hippocampus is a bizarrely shaped organ responsible for learning, consolidating memories and spatial navigation, such as the ability to remember directions, locations and orientations.

Aerobic exercise increased the volume of the right anterior hippocampus by 2%, thus reversing the age-related loss in the organ by one to two years in a Randomized clinical trial 2011. By comparison, those who did only stretching exercises had a decrease of approximately 1.43% over the same period.

Aerobic exercise means “air” and is a type of training where heart rate and respiration increase, but not so much that you can not continue to function. Types of aerobic exercise may include brisk walking, swimming, running, cycling, dancing and kickboxing, as well as all the cardiovascular machines at your local gym, such as treadmill, elliptical trainer, rower or ladder climber.

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Your walking speed could indicate dementia, according to large, new study of nearly 17,000 adults over age 65 Source link Your walking speed could indicate dementia, according to large, new study of nearly 17,000 adults over age 65

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