A recent study published in Lancet Healthy Longevity discovered that the ability to multitask while walking, such as talking or making decisions, starts to decline at the age of 55, ten years earlier than the traditional old age threshold of 65. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Hebrew SeniorLife conducted the study, which involved nearly 1,000 adults in Spain aged between 40 and 64
The participants were able to walk without assistance and showed stability under normal, quiet conditions.
Lead researcher Junhong Zhou explained that walking under dual-task conditions, such as walking while performing mental arithmetic, puts stress on the brain’s motor control system. This stress impacts the brain’s ability to maintain performance in both tasks, a critical brain function that declines with age. The study revealed that some participants experienced difficulties in walking and talking simultaneously, which could be a sign of accelerated brain aging or a warning sign of dementia.
The researchers also found that poor dual-task gait performance is linked to major cognitive impairment, falls, and alterations in brain health in older adults. As a result, they recommend monitoring dual-task walking routinely starting in middle age to prevent falls and injuries.
Despite the decline in multitasking abilities, some individuals over the age of 60 performed the tests as well as those aged 50 and younger. Zhou pointed out that some individuals seem to be more resistant to aging.
Key Takeaways in a Nutshell – Health Newstrack
1. The ability to multitask while walking declines by age 55, ten years earlier than the traditional old age threshold of 65.
2. The decline in multitasking abilities is linked to changes in brain function rather than physical condition.
3. Dual-task difficulties, such as walking and talking, can be a sign of accelerated brain aging or a warning sign of dementia.
4. Poor dual-task gait performance is associated with major cognitive impairment, falls, and alterations in brain health in older adults.
5. Researchers recommend routinely monitoring dual-task walking starting in middle age to prevent falls and injuries.
6. Some individuals over the age of 60 performed the tests as well as those aged 50 and younger, indicating that some individuals are more resistant to aging.