Differences in physical aging measured by walking speed

Weber, D. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7873-0458 (2015). Differences in physical aging measured by walking speed. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-15-010

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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 participants aged 50 years and above were collected over a ten years period. 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. We employed latent growth 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 Englishmen, whereat we identified differences in age trajectories by sex and 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 very high at early older ages particularly.

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

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:54
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:25
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/11679

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