Your Walking Speed Could Actually Tell How Long You Will Live!
While you may be looking forward to your golden years, the thing is that no one wants to grow old. Aging comes with its own set of challenges, and according to a new study, some of them may present themselves as early as during your mid-40s.
Have you noticed changes in how fast you walk? If you’re in your 40s and are slowing down, there might be an explanation for that. This new study indicates that an individual’s walking speed, especially at age 45, is an indicator of both neurological and physical aging.
Before this study was conducted, existing material only explained the link between an aging person’s gait and his health, meaning that there was a definite research gap. Interested scientists took it upon themselves to look into a person’s speed in relation to their health, looking at hundreds of 45-year-olds.
The study’s lead professional is Dr. Line Rasmussen, an aging researcher at Duke University. Speaking to Health, the postdoctoral fellow said that a person’s walking in their midlife has much to say about how the individual has aged over the years, looking at both their body and their brain. Speed, she continued, serves as an indicator of brain health.
As it turns out, the study has actually been going on for over 40 years. Study participants were over 1,000 New Zealand citizens born in either 1972 or 1973, with the research team keeping up with them till they got to 45 years of age.
Once participants were chosen, a pediatric neurologist assessed them once they reached age three, measuring everything including the child’s intelligence, language and motor skills, and behavioral and emotional regulation.
Over the years, the study team would have them assessed regularly, with these examinations always being followed by interviews. Needless to say, questions asked by the researchers were aimed at collecting data relevant to their study.
Once a participant got to age 45, their gait speed was measured using an existing test that the team had already developed. They also assessed the individuals’ aging, reaching their conclusion by checking their BMI, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, among other vital measurements.
Participants were also subjected to an MRI of the brain and facial aging assessment, not forgetting that they also had to take the WAIS-IV (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition) diagnostic test. The WAIS measures cognitive ability and intelligence and is the most widely used IQ test.
After assessing 904 participants, the researchers felt confident enough to present their findings, hence releasing the report. According to scientists, a slow gait is indicative of poor physicality in your midlife.
Additionally, they found that the slower an individual walked, the faster that they had aged. Slower participants exhibited an increased deterioration in the functions of their bodies’ organ systems, changes in brain structure and their facial aging didn’t do them any favors either.
The report went on to say that by just looking at the slow participants and comparing them with those who were fast, you could easily assume that the slower ones were older than their actual 45 years. Concerning neurocognition, the researchers found the speedier participants to have higher IQ, and at a lower risk of developing dementia as they age further.
To decelerate your aging process, therefore, Dr. Rasmussen says that you should exercise regularly and eat healthily.
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