LivingWalking slowly ages the brain

Walking slowly ages the brain

The speed at which we usually walk may be more important than what we could give it at first . It is not just about being in better physical shape thanks to our quick steps, but, in light of the latest study by scientists from Duke University (United States), it would also be essential to keep our brain in shape. Thus, researchers have concluded that the walking speed – without running – of 45-year-olds can be used as a marker of body and brain aging.

The study showed that participants who walked slowly had “ accelerated aging” on a 19-measure scale devised by the researchers, and their lungs, teeth, and immune systems tended to be in worse shape than people who walked faster.

“What’s really surprising is that this occurs in 45-year-olds, not in geriatric patients who are generally evaluated with such measures,” said Line JH Rasmussen, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. and leader of the work that collects the magazine JAMA Network Open .

Prediction factor

Likewise, neurocognitive tests that the scientists conducted when the participants were children were used to predict who would become a slow-walker in adulthood. At 3 years old, his scores on IQ, language comprehension, frustration tolerance, motor skills, and emotional control predicted his walking speed as he was 45 years old.

“Doctors know that people in their 70s and 80s who walk very slowly tend to die earlier than people their own age who walk fast,” said Terrie E. Moffitt, a professor of psychology at Nannerl O. Keohane University. Duke University and professor of social development at King’s College London and co-author of the work. “But this study covered the period from the preschool years to middle age, and found that slow walking is a marker of problems decades before old age .”

Long-term study

The data comes from a long-term study of nearly 1,000 people who were born in a single year in Dunedin, New Zealand. The 904 research participants in the study were fully followed for their entire lives, primarily from April 2017 to April 2019 at age 45.

MRI examinations during their last evaluation showed that those who walked slower tended to have a lower total brain volume, a lower median cortical thickness, less brain surface area, and a higher incidence of “hyperintensities” of the substance. white, small lesions associated with small vessel disease of the brain. In short, their brains seemed somewhat older.

In addition, a panel of eight reviewers who assessed each participant’s “facial age” from a photograph also argued that they appeared older than they actually were.



The importance of walking fast

Gait speed has long been used as a gauge of health and aging in geriatric patients, but what’s new in this study is the relative youth of the participants and the ability to see how walking speed matches. with the health measures that the study has collected throughout the life of the subjects.

Some of the differences in health and cognition may be linked to the lifestyle choices the participants made throughout their lives, it’s clear, but the study also suggests that there are already signs in early life about who would become. in a “slow walker,” Rasmussen said. “We may have a chance to see who will improve their health in the future.”


Referencia: “Association of Neurocognitive and Physical Function With Gait Speed in Midlife,” Line Rasmussen, Avshalom Caspi, Anthony Ambler, et al. .JAMA Network Open, Oct. 11, 2019. DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13123


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