The speed at which you walk may be a sign of dementia

(CNN) – Experts say that slower walking speed as you age has always been a red flag of increased weakness that can lead to falls and other disabilities. New research in small groups of older adults also finds that a decrease in walking speed from year to year may be an early sign of cognitive decline.

This can happen due to shrinkage right hippocampuspart of the brain associated with memory According to studies.

But not all signs of cognitive decline portend later dementia: only 10% to 20% of people 65 years of age or older with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) develop dementia in the following year, According to the National Institute on Aging. “In many cases, symptoms of mild cognitive impairment may remain the same or even improve,” the institute stated.

Now, a new, large-scale study of nearly 17,000 adults over the age of 65 has revealed that people who walk 5% slower each year and who also show signs of slowed mental processes are more likely to develop dementia. Investigation Posted this Tuesday in the academic journal JAMA Network is open.

“These findings highlight the importance of walking in assessing dementia risk,” wrote study author Taya Collier, a researcher at the Peninsula Clinical School of Monash University in Victoria, Australia.

biggest danger

The new study followed a group of Americans over 65 and Australians over 70 for seven years. Every two years, research participants were asked to take tests that measured general cognitive decline, memory, processing speed, and verbal fluency.

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Twice every two years, participants were also required to walk 3 metres. The two scores were averaged to determine a person’s typical walking speed.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the greatest risk of developing dementia was in those with a “double dip,” meaning people who walked slower also showed some signs of cognitive decline, explained Dr. Joe Verghese, professor of geriatrics and neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. in the Bronx, New York, who was not involved in the study.

“Furthermore, those with twofold decline were more likely to develop dementia than those with twofold decline in cognition or only walking,” Verghese wrote in an accompanying editorial published Tuesday in the journal. gamma.

a dimensional analysis A 2020 study of nearly 9,000 American adults found that the two-fold relationship between walking speed and memory decline predicts later dementia.

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

Exercise can help

There are things we can do as we age to reverse the brain shrinkage that comes with age. The studies They discovered that aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, causing some to increase aspects of memory.

Located deep in the brain’s temporal lobe, the hippocampus is a bizarrely shaped organ responsible for learning, memory consolidation, and spatial navigation, such as the ability to remember directions, locations, and orientations.

Physical activity can stave off dementia: Study 0:45

Aerobic exercise increased the volume of the right anterior hippocampus by 2%, thus reversing age-related loss of the organ within one to two years, in a 2011 randomized clinical trial. In comparison, subjects who only stretched had an approximate reduction of about 1.43% in the same period. .

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Aerobic means “air,” and it’s a type of exercise in which your heart rate and breathing increase, but not so much that you can’t continue to do your job. Types of aerobic exercise can include brisk walking, swimming, running, cycling, dancing, and kickboxing, as well as all the cardio equipment at your local gym, such as a treadmill, treadmill, rowing machine, or climber.

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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