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What Your Walk Says About Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerSeptember 2, 2014

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.

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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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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