LONDON — How fast you walk in your elder years may be more than just a sign of your mobility. It can indicate brain health, too. A new study finds that older adults who walk slowly are more likely to develop dementia.

Researchers from the University College London and University of Nottingham examined data from 3,932 adults over 60 who had participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. The authors recorded the participants’ walking speeds on two occasions in 2002-2003 and in 2004-2005. They then checked to see if those individuals had been diagnosed with dementia during annual follow-up assessments between 2006 and 2015.

Older adults walking
How fast you walk may indicate more than just your mobility. A new study finds that older adults who walk at slower speeds are more likely to develop dementia.

After comparing results, the authors noticed an uptick in dementia cases among participants who were measured as slower walkers. This was especially true for individuals who showed a faster drop in their walking speeds between testing periods. That is, those who had the most significant declines in speed over the two years when they were measured proved to be at a greater risk for the condition.

Interestingly, the researchers also noticed it wasn’t just the speed of one’s pace that indicated dementia risk. They found that participants who were slower in their thought process when it came to decision-making during the testing periods were also more prone to developing the condition later on. And just like those who showed a greater decline in walking speed during the two-year testing period were at a higher risk, so too were individuals who also had faster declines in their cognitive abilities.

Despite the findings, the authors couldn’t conclude that a decline in walking speed was necessarily connected to a decline in cognitive functioning.

According to the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that 47 million people across the globe suffer from dementia. That number is expected to balloon to 75 million by 2030.

The full study was published March 6, 2018 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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  1. neyney says:

    My 60 year old husband has neuropathy and had knee replacement surgery last year. He walks at a snails pace. He has the sharpest mind of anyone I know. This article is poppycock!

    1. fourscoreandseven says:

      According to their “logic” then everyone in a wheelchair must be mental cases!

    2. Sam says:

      There’s a drug for nueropathy called Neurontin, generic name gabapentin.. Might be worth looking into.

  2. Damien Ruffin says:


  3. IceStar says:

    I worked as an RN on an ambulatory dementia locked unit for 16 years.

    The demented are NOT slow walkers

  4. Poor Wilber says:

    Was this evaluated by Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks?

  5. Boris the Russian Troll says:

    So does this must mean stumble walkers, like Hillary, are already brain dead?

  6. Jack Hoyer says:

    Does that go for slow drivers too?

  7. L K says:

    It’s a function of a diseased brain to walk slow, among many other things. The walking slow is the symptom, NOT the cause of Dementia!

    1. fourscoreandseven says:

      I know a man in his 80s, who walks like the Tim Conway caricature of the old man, BUT he can do long division in his head, can explain the intricacies of biologic systems, and how bacteria operates. And, he is still able to fly fish and fly a plane! If that is “dementia,” I will NEVER be that smart or capable; people are varied and complex!

  8. Governor1 says:

    That is racist, irrational targeting of blacks who walk slowly.

    1. Sam says:

      It’s sexist, too. On average, women walk more slowly than men.

      I’m not sure how fast transsexuals walk, but somebody should look into that.

  9. Mary Carter says:

    Living is causing Alzheimers and a lot of other things you don’t want. I walk slowly because I am in pain. Knees, back, shoulders, every day. I walk because I need to keep moving. No one knows anything about old age until they live it. Most of us don’t go around complaining and even if we did, you have to experience aging to really comprehend it. We do not get any respect these days because respect, kindness and love are not taught by many parents and certainly not in this country by anyone else. The church I attend is the only place where I see good parenting and family love. Thank God it is still practiced in Christian homes. I lived a healthy life for the most part, climbed mountains, hikes and worked out daily for many years. That is part of the reason I am in pain now.

    1. fourscoreandseven says:

      You have hit on a valuable truth! (That is, church as a support system.) President Trump also amazes me with his “common sense” and his ability to “nail stuff” without even seeming to know that he is doing it.

      A few days ago, President Trump pointed out that violent video games harm children, BUT the Left hooted and responded that “we have had violent video games for years” and it “never did this much harm.”

      TRUTH! In the “olden days” we were taken to church (in larger numbers) and we were also taught morals, manners, compassion, to be polite and “do the right thing” in church, and in school, and in vacation Bible school and in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and other forums. WE NO LONGER HAVE THAT BALANCE! And, that is what is wrong with violent video games WHEN THAT IS ALL CHILDREN SEE! If we SUPPRESS church folks, and CELEBRATE ghetto folks, we will get MORE ghetto folks, and FEWER church folks.

  10. Frank Mercurio says:

    I guess I had it ass forward and not at all scientific, that is:….the ones with dementia tended to slow down as dementia advanced…go figure…

  11. Larry Lawless says:

    So, you can out walk it ?

    1. fourscoreandseven says:

      GOOD ONE! Thanks!