In the frame of the SardiNIA project, aiming at unraveling the genetic processes involved in age-related traits and disease, researchers investigated effect modifiers of the age–walking speed association, including personality traits.

The goals of this cross-sectional study were to explore correlates of walking speed in a large wide age-ranged population and to identify factors affecting lower walking speed at older ages. Participants were 3,872 community-dwelling adults who completed a 4-m walking test.

This study shows that walking speed was positively correlated with extraversion and openness in women and agreeableness in men. These findings of an independent effect of personality traits on walking speed are particularly interesting: the strong impact of personality suggests that certain personality traits may be associated with behaviors that affect physical performance and condition the reduced mobility mostly at younger ages. If these patterns are confirmed in longitudinal studies, personality may be an important target for prevention.

Reference: Tolea, Magdalena I., et al. “Sex-specific correlates of walking speed in a wide age-ranged population.” Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 65.2 (2010): 174-184.