Gait Speed & Aging: Is There a Connection? 

Person track running

Age is just a number. At least, that is what we would love to believe. However, as time goes on the body faces inevitable wear and tear. At the same time, this doesn’t mean you don’t have some control when it comes to aging gracefully and maintaining your independence, mobility, and function.

Recent research indicates that a reduced gait speed is associated with adverse health outcomes, including an increased risk of disease, falling, disability, and hospitalization. Overall, gait speed assesses a person’s functional mobility. Studies further show that decreased functional mobility may be associated with an increased mortality risk. So, let’s dive into this topic a little further. What is the connection between gait speed and mortality? And what can you do to gain back control and improve your life at any age?

The Impact of Gait on Mortality and Aging

A 2011 study demonstrated how predicted survival rates in older adults based on age, sex, and gait speed were just as accurate as those based on age, sex, chronic conditions, the use of mobility aids, smoking history, body mass index, hospitalization, and blood pressure. This indicates that gait speed plays a major role in longevity and health as we age.

 

In other words, gait speed offers an accurate assessment of overall health. It provides a window into muscular strength, balance, knee and hip joint function, and more. And when moving is tough, we likely feel more inclined to move less. In turn, this can create a downward spiral where your physical health quickly detoriates. 


As you may already know, regular movement is an essential factor in maintaining good overall health, including mental and physical components. Various research even proves this to be true. This means if you’re struggling to walk or move, it’s of the utmost importance that you actively find ways to improve this and increase your strength and mobility.

The Impact of Gait on Mortality and Aging

A 2011 study demonstrated how predicted survival rates in older adults based on age, sex, and gait speed were just as accurate as those based on age, sex, chronic conditions, the use of mobility aids, smoking history, body mass index, hospitalization, and blood pressure. This indicates that gait speed plays a major role in longevity and health as we age.

 

In other words, gait speed offers an accurate assessment of overall health. It provides a window into muscular strength, balance, knee and hip joint function, and more. And when moving is tough, we likely feel more inclined to move less. In turn, this can create a downward spiral where your physical health quickly detoriates. 


As you may already know, regular movement is an essential factor in maintaining good overall health, including mental and physical components. Various research even proves this to be true. This means if you’re struggling to walk or move, it’s of the utmost importance that you actively find ways to improve this and increase your strength and mobility.

How to Maintain Your Physical Function At Any Age

Aging gracefully and maintaining walking function isn’t as complicated as you might think. Overall, it comes down to doing the basics when it comes to taking care of your physical health. This means:

The human body thrives with moderate movement. Daily walks, strength training, and stretching routines are crucial pieces of a healthy routine, especially with age. In particular, walking is a fundamental part of many daily activities. As with most things, practice makes perfect. Walking further improves muscular strength and cardiovascular and respiratory function.

Additionally, strength training increases muscle mass, which begins to decline after the age of 30. Stretching a few times a week can also help maintain flexibility of your joints and muscles.

The saying, “You are what you eat,” isn’t that far from the truth. Your body can only do so much with what you give it. Obtaining a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals through your diet contributes to optimal functioning and cellular repair. Focus on consuming whole foods and making meals at home as opposed to eating or ordering out. This way, you know exactly what goes into the food you eat.

If you’re a smoker, one of the best things you can do for your health is quit. On top of this, limiting your alcohol consumption to a few drinks a week or not drinking at all can substantially improve your physical health. After all, your liver isn’t just in charge of detoxification. It also contributes to enzyme activation, the storage of vitamins and minerals, the production of certain proteins, and more. Ensuring your liver can do its job right is a major factor in overall good physical health.

Sleep deprivation is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, impaired immunity, mood disorders, neurodegeneration, high blood pressure, and more. Sleep is essential for repair and restoration of the body and its systems. This is why it’s so important to ensure you go to bed and wake up at the same time, as well as practice proper sleep hygiene, such as sleeping in a dark, quiet, and cool room. Most adults should get about 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. If you’re getting less than this, it’s time to make a change!

Effectively treating any pain that is limiting your movement is an important first step towards better long term mobility. At Featherston St Pain Clinic we use cutting edge technology to identify gait weaknesses and asymmetries – this data enables us to prescribe specific exercises that target your legs stabilising muscles. We monitor and measure patient progress carefully using the same software over time. Many people who suffer with poor health outcomes due to gait degradation have high arches or flat feet, for these people we prescribe custom insoles which can have a profound impact on the preservation of mobility in the long term.

Not Sure Where to Start?

At the Featherston Street Pain Clinic, our expert team can perform a biomechanical analysis of your gait and help you make a plan to restore your health and improve your life. That way, you won’t let life pass you by. Instead, you can spend more quality time with the people you love and participate in the activities you enjoy. Book your appointment today.

Not Sure Where to Start?

At the Featherston Street Pain Clinic, our expert team can perform a biomechanical analysis of your gait and help you make a plan to restore your health and improve your life. That way, you won’t let life pass you by. Instead, you can spend more quality time with the people you love and participate in the activities you enjoy. Book your appointment today.

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