Recent research reported in Scientific American suggests that one may be able to predict the life expectancy of older adults simply by measuring the pace at which they walk. The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that measuring a senior’s walking speed is as accurate a predictor of life expectancy as a full battery of medical tests.
Now, before you go out and start power-walking everywhere, recognize that this is based on the natural gait that most of us keep fairly stable throughout our lives. The correlation isn’t causal so walking faster won’t make you live longer (other than the aerobic benefits it will impart). However, watching the rate at which grandma moves might give you some indication as to when she needs to see her doctor. A change in gait may indicate a condition that needs attention.