An international team of scientists has come to a cruel conclusion thanks to data collected over decades: people who walk slower at 45 age , age faster. Researchers have observed that the footprint of the aging process tends to be deeper in organs such as the lungs, that tooth decay is greater, and that the immune system is in worse shape. In addition, some brain-related parameters, such as organ volume, also relate to the speed at which one walks at the equator of life. According to the conclusions of the study, gathered in a scientific article, the volume of the brains of people who walk more slowly tends to be smaller and some of their functions suffer a more accelerated aging.
The researchers have calculated an average speed of 1.3 meters per second and a maximum average speed of two meters per second among the almost one thousand people who participated in the study. Those who walked slower not only had more physical limitations and scored worse on parameters such as the force they displayed when squeezing their hand. Their faces also showed more signs of aging and presented more difficulties when doing neurocognitive tests. Some IQ sections were lower in these people.
The conclusions stem from the monitoring of a thousand New Zealanders from birth between 1972 and 1973 until their 45th birthday. During this time, and from the age of three, the scientists carried out numerous tests on them. The tests were part of research that seeks to advance knowledge of health and behavior through the study of 1,037 people born in Dunedin, New Zealand. Despite the undoubted scientific value of this longitudinal study, the authors of the new paper warn that the brain images with which they measured the differences among the participants, some of whom had a younger brain, could not be done until recently. Measuring gait speed has had the same limitation.
Measuring health by how you walk as a child?
Researchers believe that their work points to an important direction in which to move forward. “Gait speed is primarily used to monitor the functional ability of older adults to predict their age-related rate of decline. Our findings suggest that perhaps gait speed is not just of geriatric interest,” says the new article, which has been published in the journal JAMA Network Open. Specifically, decreased gait speed “is associated with a worse response to rehabilitation and age-related illnesses, including cardiovascular and dementia.
The new work shows that a measure already used to assess the health of older people could be used in younger adults. In other words, it could help prevent the undesirable consequences of the biological process of ageing. Moreover, the paper points out that some of the signs of deteriorating health related to the passage of time can be detected in childhood. “Those with worse neuro-cognitive functioning at age three showed slower gait in middle age,” the text underscores.
The study encourages a deeper understanding of the relationship between this neurocognitive functioning in childhood and gait speed in middle age; and also to use this measurement in studies aimed at curbing biological aging. “There are several interventions focused on human aging that are being tested in trials for the prevention of aging – from calorie restriction to the administration of metaformin,” the text says. And such an easy-to-obtain measure could increase its quality. “It is increasingly recognized that it may be simpler to prevent age-related harm than to reverse it,” the paper concludes. The goal, after learning the findings of the new study, is to walk faster into a more slowly advancing old age.