Executive function correlates with walking speed in older persons: the InCHIANTI study

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Mar;53(3):410-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.53157.x.


Objectives: To study the association between performance on psychological tests of executive function and performance on lower extremity tasks with different attentional demands in a large sample of nondemented, older adults.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Community-based.

Participants: Nine hundred twenty-six persons aged 65 and older, without dementia, stroke, parkinsonism, visual impairment, or current treatment with neuroleptics, enrolled in a large epidemiological study.

Measurements: Trail Making Test (TMT) parts A and B and two performance-based measures of lower extremity function that require different executive/attentional-demanding skills: walking speed on a 4-m course at usual pace and walking speed on a 7-m obstacle course at fast pace. A difference score (Delta TMT), obtained by subtracting time to perform part A from time to perform part B of the TMT, was used as an indicator of executive function. Based on Delta TMT, subjects were divided into poor performance, intermediate performance, and good performance.

Results: After adjustment, no association between Delta TMT and 4-m course usual-pace walking speed was found. Participants with poor Delta TMT and with intermediate Delta TMT performance were more likely to be in the lowest tertile for 7-m obstacle course walking speed.

Conclusion: In nondemented older persons, executive function is independently associated with tasks of lower extremity function that require high attentional demand.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Time Factors
  • Trail Making Test
  • Walking*