Here are a few details reported by Time Magazine.
Previous studies have linked walking speed in the elderly with overall good health and even longevity, but the current research is among the first to associate gait with risk of Alzheimer’s. The four new studies, presented over the weekend at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, find that changes in physical movements like walking can even precede symptoms of cognitive decline
The story continues…
In one other study presented at the conference suggested that people’s true walking speed could more accurately be measured by tracking their activity at home rather than using a single test at the doctor’s office. Dr. Lisa Silbert of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and colleagues studied 19 dementia-free adults, using MRI to measure the volume of the entire brain and various sections and also testing their walking speed. The researchers measured velocity in two ways: by timing participants as they walked about 30 ft. at the doctor’s office before undergoing MRI, and at home by using motion sensors that continuously collected walking data over a one-month period.
The researchers found that people tended to walk faster in the doctor’s-office test than they did at home. Further, slower walking speeds measured at home were more closely associated with smaller total brain size and smaller volumes of the hippocampus — a brain region crucial to memory processing — than the one-time walking speeds measured at the office.
“Walking speed taken at a single time point may overestimate walking abilities in the elderly,” said Silbert. “Our data suggests that continuous in-home monitoring may provide a more accurate reflection of walking speed and may be more sensitive at detecting motor changes associated with future cognitive decline.” Silbert said, noting that technology exists to allow doctors to measure patient’s walking speed in the real world.
Also, from the press conference where this research was first announced, a few comments from OHSU’s Dr. Lisa Silbert: