The way you walk could predict future cognitive decline

The way people walk is an indicator of how fast their brains are ageing.

Your walk can predict Alzheimer’s

The way we walk is an indicator of how fast our brains, as well as our bodies, are ageing. 

In a special supplement in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, scientists reported that gait disorders, particularly slowing gait, should be considered a marker of future cognitive decline. They also proposed testing motor performance as well as cognitive performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

“There is an emerging focus on the importance of assessing motor performance as well as cognitive performance to predict cognitive function loss,” explained guest editor Dr Manuel Montero-Odasso from the University of Western Ontario.

“In the past two decades, large epidemiological studies have shown that gait disorders, particularly slowing gait, may be present at early stages of dementia or may even predict who will be at risk of progressing to dementia.

“Subtle impairments in gait are more prevalent in older adults with cognitive impairments and dementia and are also associated with an increased risk of falls.”

Gait testing may help to detect the subgroup of at-risk patients who may benefit the most from invasive diagnostic procedures or early interventions.

“Finding early dementia detection methods is vital,” added Dr Montero-Odasso.

“It is conceivable that in the future we will be able to make the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias before people even have significant memory loss.

“In older adults with moderate cognitive impairment, slowing down their usual walking by more than 20 per cent when they add a cognitive task is indicative of a seven-fold increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s Disease in a five-year timeframe.

“We believe that gait, as a complex brain-motor task, provides a golden window of opportunity to detect individuals at higher risk of dementia who can benefit the most from more invasive testing or early interventions.”

Have you noticed your walking pace slowing as you’ve aged? Does this give you cause for concern?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    MICK
    4th Nov 2019
    10:01am
    It was recently reported that there is now a treatment available to stop Alzheimers in its track. If so does it really matter other than starting the treatment sooner rather than later?
    Of course we hear about cured for everything from the common cold to breast cancer (not prostate cancer of course!) and its nearly always media BS offering false hope but pulling an audience to watch so lets see if the treatment is the real McCoy.
    Polly Esther
    4th Nov 2019
    2:52pm
    Good to hear MICK and can't talk about the prostate myself but I do agree with you. More power to all the men actually, keep yourself nice mate, and cheers :-)
    tisme
    4th Nov 2019
    10:06am
    after spending years caring for others , im now 60 becoming worse with arthritis and spinal issues ( that I cant get a diagnosis for ) and beginning to walk bent slightly so.............
    Nanna75
    4th Nov 2019
    10:48am
    I too am getting older, my walking was getting slower and causing me backache. I used to be quite active before my husband died and I know I let myself go after he passed. There was always an excuse not to walk, hot, cold, windy, don't feel like it, other things to do. I was putting it off. I bought myself a small treadmill through Amazon similar to the ones advertised on TV but much cheaper. It's been a godsend. The first couple of times I was exhausted and so breathless after 2 minutes at 2pm per hour. I use it 4 or 5 times a week, and occasionally twice a day. I have a day off every 3rd day. I'm feeling much more comfortable with myself. Not losing weight yet but definitely feeling freer, fitter, possibly toned? No excuses now doing it the comfort of my own home, even in my pj's some days. Get moving folks.
    KSS
    4th Nov 2019
    12:44pm
    Good for you Nanna75. Now you are feeling stonger, try doing a lap round the nearest park, along the beach or even the oval. Walking in a natural envionment has many additional benefits that are well documented including improving things as diverse as balance, and mental health.
    Rosret
    4th Nov 2019
    12:25pm
    So my twisted ankle that makes walking very averse is going to get me chucked in the dementia unit! I better straighten up!!
    KSS
    4th Nov 2019
    12:39pm
    People have always had to jog to keep up with me walking. Even in distance events I was overtaking people jogging as I was simply walking. Even n ow people decades younger struggle to keep up. I'd say based on this, I have very little danger of developing Alzheimers.
    Cheezil61
    4th Nov 2019
    4:41pm
    Not sure about this one, not much substance & probably grasping at straws as usual!
    My dad was as active as a 21yo when we noticed signs of dementia in his early to mid 80's & he was still fit & fast 2 or 3 years after diagnosis until the nursing home hit him hard with medication (instead of providing enough staff to keep him occupied/busy/engaged) after he'd escaped/absconded about 10 times!
    Charlie
    4th Nov 2019
    6:12pm
    The way people walk indicates how their whole body is aging, how do you separate out cognitive ability
    Bren
    4th Nov 2019
    7:28pm
    The way I read this post was that if you slowed down by x% compared to your normal rate, when loaded with an extra cognitive test (like solving a difficult problem), it was a sign that you couldn't do both at full speed. Due to decreased cognitive ability the extra grunt required to solve the problem while walking meant that some of the processing power was diverted from walking to thinking. This would slow you down, of course.
    Bren
    4th Nov 2019
    7:28pm
    The way I read this post was that if you slowed down by x% compared to your normal rate, when loaded with an extra cognitive test (like solving a difficult problem), it was a sign that you couldn't do both at full speed. Due to decreased cognitive ability the extra grunt required to solve the problem while walking meant that some of the processing power was diverted from walking to thinking. This would slow you down, of course.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles