A new study which was published in Medical News Today stated that walking at a fast pace enhances life expectancy among people of all ages though it can benefit aged people the most. The research further declared that people who walk at a slow pace from the age of 45 onwards show signs of premature aging at both physical and cognitive level. Since time immemorial doctors have used speed of gait as a marker of health and fitness among older adults but the new research was carried out to answer a slightly difficult question.
Can slow gait during middle age be an indicator for accelerated aging?
To answer this, Ph.D researcher Line J. H. Rasmussen from dept. of psychology and neuroscience at Durham based Duke University and his colleagues set out to collect data from 904 participants and published details of their research in Journal JAMA Network Open. The researchers assessed data of participants from Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study which is a longitudinal cohort study of people living in Dunedin region of New Zealand. These participants have undergone regular tests throughout their lives and their health and behavior was tracked by the researchers on a regular basis. The medical assessments of these patients began when they were just 3 years old and during early years pediatric neurologist used simple intelligence tests to assess their neurocognitive performance.
The pediatric neurologist used these tests to access the child’s motor skills, receptive language, behavioral regulation and emotional balance. Researchers also assessed data related to IQ scores that measures individual processing speed, perceptual reasoning, memory and verbal comprehension. The researchers than evaluated walking speed of these as adult participants under multiple conditions namely – regular speed of gait, gait while performing an oral task like reciting alphabets and maximum speed of gait. Participating adults were also asked to self-report performance levels in series of physical tasks to check their balance, grip strength and hand-eye coordination.