The speed at which someone walks may predict the development of dementia later in life, according to researchers in the U.S.

The study was conducted at the Boston Medical Centre. 2,410 people, who were 62 years old, participated in the study.

Their brain scans, walking speed and grip strength were recorded. The results that were presented at the Academy of Neurology's annual meeting said 11 years later, 34 people had developed dementia and 79 had had a stroke.

The researchers said that the slow speed walkers have a higher risk of dementia and stronger grip with a lower risk of stroke.

Dr Erica Camargo, who conducted the latest study at the Boston Medical Centre, told BBC: While frailty and lower physical performance in elderly people have been associated with an increased risk of dementia, we weren't sure until now how it impacted people of middle age.

 These are basic office tests which can provide insight into risk of dementia and stroke and can be easily performed by a neurologist or general practitioner, Camargo said.

He added: Further research is needed to understand why this is happening and whether preclinical disease could cause slow walking and decreased strength.

These findings have not yet been published in an academic journal.

Experts have raised important questions. Before people take stock in the strength of a handshake or the speed you cross the road, more research is needed to understand why and what other factors are involved, quoted BBC as Dr Anne Corbett, research manager at the Alzheimer's Society saying.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia, Corbett said.

We recommend you eat a healthy balanced diet, don't smoke, maintain a healthy weight, take regular exercise; and get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly, he added.

The Stroke Association's Dr Sharlin Ahmed also shared his view that says: Around a third of those who have a stroke are left with some kind of physical disability, including hand weakness and difficulty walking. However, this is the first time we have seen research that looks at the presence of related symptoms before a stroke.

This is an interesting study, but a lot more research is needed before we can conclude that strength of grip or walking speed can determine the risk of stroke, Ahmed added.