Your walking speed may be tied to your dementia risk, warn researchers

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.


    1. so you’re attributing walking pace to physical conditioning? Is it a fact that they’re correlated?

      1. If you even have to ask that, you are probably fat and showing signs of dementia. Seek medical help!

      2. Slow walkers are usually fat and lazy folk killing themselves with a knife and fork with an aversion to health and wellness. Slow walkers also love CNN…..

      1. Didn’t even give an actual speed.
        And maybe those who walk ‘slow’ have impediments that govern their speed.
        Again…sloppy article!

    1. I think everyone expressing criticism of this type is missing the implication of this line from the article: “Despite the findings, the authors couldn’t conclude that a decline in walking speed was necessarily connected to a decline in cognitive functioning.” I don’t know how the article could have been more explicit in expressing that the findings reflected a mere correlation.

      1. “Your Walking Speed May Be Tied To Your Dementia Risk, Warn Researchers” gee I don’t know either

    2. So also are they claiming that there is a correlation or cause and effect between arthritis and dementia? Oh great. my bad knees that make it difficult to walk long and fast is going to mean dementia? /sigh so little info in this “study”

  1. Another hypothesis that might be worth studying is whether sick people stand up less often than other people. I’m willing to study this for a mere $10 million.

    1. I’ll do the study for $5 million. And I can have the conclusion for you by next Tuesday, provided you give me the cash up front.

  2. Get into classical music. Recent French study shows development of brain cells from regular exposure. This has to do with harmonic resonance therapy. It’s not that other types of music can’t do that, but you would have it more in classical since much of the material has sustained tones and a wider variety of tone combinations from full orchestra. One example that highly speaks in favor of this theory is the conductor Bernark Haitink. He has just turned 89 and is still booked all over the world including the conducting of Mahler symphonies. He is booked for the Chicago Symphony in October. 89. Listen to Mahler, available all over YouTube.

    1. Screw classical. Become a rock n roll star – Mick Jagger can strut and jump for 2 hours, no problem. And he remembers all the words!

  3. So by this criteria Steven Hawking had dementia ? I would think a better criteria would be to evaluate the reason for a slower pace. This is such a bogus study.

  4. President Harry Truman was known for his fast walking. There was a photo of him with a group of reporters, one of whom, a cameraman, was on roller skates in order to keep ahead of him.

    1. You should publish this. There’s a whole world outside this thread that must be made aware of your findings.

  5. So if you don’t know why or where you walking – you tend to take your time and hence walk slower.

  6. “Despite the findings, the authors couldn’t conclude that a decline in walking speed was necessarily connected to a decline in cognitive functioning.” Exactly. Correlation is not causation. SMH…
    In other news; “Your Age May Be Tied To Your Dementia Risk, Warn Researchers” or “Your Diet May Be Tied To Your Dementia Risk, Warn Researchers” or perhaps, “Your Genetics May Be Tied To Your Dementia Risk, Warn Researchers”. I assume its safe to say that the researchers at the University College London and University of Nottingham received tax payer funding for this groundbreaking study?

  7. Do their legs have any muscle on them or not? Do my muscular legs have anything to do with that? Do they sit on their fanny all day and rarely walk anyway? Have they ever been on a bicycle in their entire life or not? So many expensive studies to finance and so little money

  8. What the article fails to point out is that dementia causes people to slow their pace… but reads as if fast walking in old age might prevent dementia. If that’s true, I’m running everywhere from now on…

  9. After many years of reading about ‘studies’, I have come to the conclusion that most are unmitigated rubbish
    If there are two possible outcomes given a particular scenario one is almost always going to triumph over the other. This is a given and proves nothing. Cause and effect is not present or proven.

    1. These studies are important in that our tax dollars couldn’t possibly go to anything more useful. Plus we don’t want to keep the money ourselves do we?

  10. 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!


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

    The demented are NOT slow walkers

  13. 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. 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!

    1. 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.

  14. 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. 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.

  15. 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…

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