How Fast You Walk and Your Grip in Middle Age May Predict Dementia, Stroke

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A presentation at the American Academy of Neurologys 64th Annual Meeting in 2012 suggests that simple tests performed in clinics may provide insights into future stroke and dementia risk.[1]

Simple tests such as walking speed and hand grip strength may help doctors determine how likely it is a middle-aged person will develop dementia or stroke.

More than 2,400 men and women with an average age of 62 underwent tests for walking speed, hand grip strength and cognitive function. Brain scans were also performed. During the follow-up period of up to 11 years, 34 people developed dementia and 70 people had a stroke.

The study found people with a slower walking speed in middle age were one-and-a-half times more likely to develop dementia compared to people with faster walking speed. Stronger hand grip strength was associated with a 42 percent lower risk of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) in people over age 65 compared to those with weaker hand grip strength. This was not the case, however, for people in the study under age 65.

Researchers also found that slower walking speed was associated with lower total cerebral brain volume and poorer performance on memory, language and decision-making tests. Stronger hand grip strength was associated with larger total cerebral brain volume as well as better performance on cognitive tests asking people to identify similarities among objects.

Learn more about dementia and stroke at


The loss of physical strength as we gage may be mitigated by simple exercise routines and making the effort to walk regularly under stress loads rather than simply accepting the decline in physical strength as an unavoidable component of aging. Too many middle age people are willing to avoid walking and strength training due to fatigue or other commitments – yet indications are that exercise may well be one of the best investments’ in risk reduction you can make.


[1] Abstract Title: Walking Speed, Handgrip Strength and Risk of Dementia and Stroke: The Framingham Offspring Study Read Preview

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