What Your Walk Says About Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

As researchers continue to focus efforts on Alzheimer’s disease prevention, recent studies show a relationship between the way a person walks and their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

What Your Walk Says About Your Risk For Alzheimer's

Learn what your walk may be telling you about your risk, and what this means for the future of disease prevention and treatment methods.

A Slow Gait May Indicate Early Alzheimer’s

Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have developed a walking test that they hope can be used as a diagnostic tool to identify those who are at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The team of researchers collected information on roughly 27,000 people from around the world over a course of 12 years. All of the participants were over 60 years old and not diagnosed with any kind of dementia.

Understanding that a slowing pace or gait can be an early sign of dementia, scientists set out to discover if a slow gait could also be a predictor of the disease. They found that 10% of their participants had motoric cognitive risk syndrome (MCR). MCR is a recently discovered condition that results in a slow gait and decreased cognitive function. Researchers believe that the condition itself is a factor for cognitive decline.

Joe Verghese, team lead and neurology and geriatrics professor said:

“Even though we think of walking as a automatic process, it really isn’t. When you’re walking out in the real world, it’s a complex action.”

What This Means for Future Prevention Methods

Similar studies done in the past have bolstered the belief that slow gait may be a predictor of Alzheimer’s.

Five studies showing that a slower, less controlled walk may indicate an issue with cognitive functioning were presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver.

While more studies need to be done before proving a definite causation, these studies show us that physical activity may be extremely important in delaying and preventing Alzheimer’s.

For now, researchers hope to conduct more studies which could result in a tool that doctors can use to screen patients who may be showing early signs of dementia through their walk.

What do you think about the latest predictor of Alzheimer’s? Is it a valuable insight into early Alzheimer’s? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • BjB

    While it is stated that the participants were not diagnosed with dementia, it would be nice to know if the study took into account any other reasons a person’s gait might be slow, such as neurological impairment from surgery or other causes, stroke, Parkinsons, etc. or whether the subjects were otherwise deemed healthy.

  • paula

    Some people have walked at a slow pace their whole life. I don’t believe that just because you walk slower means you’re going to get Alzheimer’s

  • Dee Middleton

    My father passed at 86 from Alzheimer’s. No one could keep up with my Dad. He was 6’1 and we would walk all over New York. He lived in FL when he was diagnosed and we walked two miles a day. People could not keep up with me even in 4 in heels. About a year after my dad passed walking had become difficult for me. My right leg was messing up. Turns out @ 57 I had MS. Came on suddenly and 3 years later difficult to walk unassisted. My dad and I walked up until about a month before his death. He thought we were back in NY and he still walked fast. Miss him so much, but in this case there was no correlation at all.

  • Kajac

    My husband was diagnosed with dementia four years ago and with AD two years ago. One of the first signs I noticed what that he began to shuffle when he walked. As a competitive swimmer all his life, this was totally unlike him.

  • Beloved

    I think there may be more than a slow gait. My Beloved began walking slower and with his feet wider apart. He had two bad falls because he just lost his balance. There was nothing to trip over. He just seemed to forget how to walk. He was diagnosed with AD about five years ago.

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