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Decline In Walking Speed May Be Associated With Increased Risk of Dementia

As we age, the speed at which we walk naturally declines. However the amount it declines varies. Now a new study suggests that a 5% or more decline in walking speed and signs of cognitive decline may be an indicator of an increased risk of dementia in mature adults.

Participants in the study included 16,855 healthy adults over the age of 65. Walking speed was evaluated at baseline, 2 years, 4 years, 6 years, and 7 years. Cognitive functions including overall cognitive function, memory, processing speed, and verbal fluency were evaluated at baseline and after 7 years.

The researchers found that participants whose walking speed decreased by 5% or more and who showed signs of cognitive decline had the highest risk of developing dementia. Specifically, they had a 20-fold increased risk compared to those who did not have a decrease in walking speed or signs of cognitive decline. They also had a 5-fold increased risk compared to those who only had a decrease in walking speed and a 3-fold increased risk compared to those who only showed signs of cognitive decline.

The study was conducted by researchers from Monash University and Rush University Medical Center. It was published online ahead of print on May 31, 2022 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

A previous study found that higher levels of antioxidants may help reduce the risk of dementia
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