The Dunedin Study - DMHDRU

What does my walking speed mean?

We can use walking speed as an example of how our data does not apply to any one individual.

We found that there is an association between brain structure and the speed at which a person walks. (For more information click here). That is, when we look at a large group of people like we have in the Dunedin Study we find that people with higher values for these brain measurements are a bit more likely to have a faster walking pace. However, two important words in that sentence are more likely – just because you do not walk quickly does not mean that you have poorer brain health and vice versa. The other important word is a bit - only 1-2 % (i.e., not very much) of the variation in walking speed among Study members is related to each of those brain measurements.

Although you can see how someone's walking speed could be related to their brain, you can probably also think of many other reasons why their walking speed might be slower or faster than other people's, or why it might vary on any particular day. We are all complicated creatures and our personalities, strengths, habits, and all the things that make us individuals are usually the sum of many, many small differences. These differences are due to the genes we inherit from our parents, the effects of the environments that we live in, and a good dose of randomness (and the way in which those things interact with each other). However, that does not stop Study member data from being extremely valuable – the more of those small pieces of the puzzle that we can fit together the better the overall picture that we get. We thank our Study members for their continued participation.

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