A woman makes her way on a snow-covered sidewalk in Tokyo, Japan, January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The walking speed of a person may help the body function better, a study stated which has shown that people who walk slowly at 45 degrees angle have more accelerated ageing than those who walk fast.

According to the research, slower walkers have a greater reduction in brain volume and also have low balance and grip strength than those who walk at a normal pace.

The study published in JAMA Network Open that assessed health data of more than 900 New Zealanders over a period of 40 years (since they were around three years old) used GAITRite Electronic Walkway -- a system that provides gait analysis and identifies anomalies – to categorise them into slowest (average 1.21 meters per second), fastest (average 1.75 m/s), and those who walked at a normal pace (average 1.50 m/s).

The findings of the research that also assessed 19 biomarkers, including body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, cholesterol levels, white blood cell count, gum health, and cardiorespiratory fitness, suggested those with the slowest walking speed showed accelerated ageing and a reduction in total brain volume, meaning that walking speed affects both physical as well as cognitive health.

The results showed there was a 16-point IQ difference between the fastest and the slowest walkers. Slow walkers also appeared significantly older than those who walk faster and scored worse on balance and grip measuring test, said lead researcher Line Rasmussen from the Duke University.

Researchers may now look at cognitive functions in toddlers such as how well they do on an IQ test, their proficiency at language, and how easily they manage their emotions to predict how slowly they will be walking at midlife, she continued, adding that Gait speed was not only an indicator of ageing but also an indicator of lifelong brain health.

"We didn't investigate running speed in this study, but typically people who love running are also able to walk very fast because running keeps the brain's capacity to control bipedal locomotion at its sharpest," the researcher explained, and added that running was an excellent way to keep the body and mind in shape.

Now, those who have been procrastinating going on a run to keep their physical health in shape have an added motivation for it.