Differences in physical aging measured by walking speed: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Weber D (2016). Differences in physical aging measured by walking speed: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. BMC Geriatrics 16 (1): 1-9. DOI:10.1186/s12877-016-0201-x.

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Abstract

Background: Physical functioning and mobility of older populations are of increasing interest when populations are aging. Lower body functioning such as walking is a fundamental part of many actions in daily life. Limitations in mobility threaten independent living as well as quality of life in old age. In this study we examine differences in physical aging and convert those differences into the everyday measure of single years of age.

Methods: We use the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which was collected biennially between 2002 and 2012. Data on physical performance, health as well as information on economics and demographics of participnts were collected. Lower body performance was assessed with two timed walks at normal pace each of 8 ft (2.4 m ) of survey participants aged at least 60 years. We employed growth curve models to study differences in physical aging and followed the characteristic-based age approach to illustrate those differences in single years of age.

Results: First, we examined walking speed of about 11,700 English individuals, and identified differences in aging trajectories by sex and other characteristics (e.g. education, occupation, regional wealth). Interestingly, higher educated and non-manual workers outperformed their counterparts for both men and women. Moreover, we transformed the differences between subpopulations into single years of age to demonstrate the magnitude of those gaps, which appear particularly high at early older ages.

Conclusions: This paper expands research on aging and physical performance. In conclusion, higher education provides an advantage in walking of up to 15 years for men and 10 years for women. Thus, enhancements in higher education have the potential to ensure better mobility and independent living in old age for a longer period.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: walking speed; population aging; timed walk; ELSA
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2016 09:21
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2016 10:25
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/11861

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