Walking Faster Linked to Survival in Older Adults

The research suggests that walking speed may be a relevant indicator of overall health.

A recent study in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, found that walking speed was associated with survival in older adults. Researchers analyzed data from nine different studies, looking at 34,485 adults aged 65 years or older.

The participants lived in communities—not in nursing homes—at the time of the study and included men and women of various ethnic groups. Participants were a mean age of 73.5 years. Survival increased across the full range of gait speeds over a fixed distance, with significant increments per 0.1 miles per second. At age 75, predicted 10-year survival across the range of gait speeds ranged from 19 to 87 percent in men and 35 to 91 percent in women.

The study found that survival estimates help individualize goals of care for geriatric patients. Predicted survival based on age, sex, and gait speed was as accurate as predicted based on age, sex, use of mobility aids, and self-reported function or as age, sex, chronic conditions, smoking history, blood pressure, body mass index, and hospitalization.

The research suggests that walking speed may be a relevant indicator of overall health.

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