One somewhat surprising predictor of longevity is grip strength. In one study, researchers measured grip strength in almost 140,000 adults from 17 countries and over a 4-year period, monitored their health and re-measured grip strength. An 11-pound decrease in grip strength was linked to a 16% increased risk of dying from any cause. Grip strength was deemed a better predictor of death or cardiovascular disease than blood pressure – even after controlling for other factors such as age and smoking. Shocking, right? So you can eat your bread, just as long as you are kneading the dough by hand???
In the study, muscle weakness was defined as grip strength <26 kg for men and <16 kg for women. Grip strength below these numbers was highly correlated with an increase in disease.
Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in recent medical literature. It’s easy to measure, and considers strength, balance, coordination, confidence, cardiovascular fitness, tolerance to activity, and a whole host of other factors. It’s predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is 2.6 to 3 miles per hour. Quick check: can you cross the street well within the time the “walk” signal is flashing?
Push-ups are popular to build strength, but a recent study found that they can show us a lot about heart health. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push-ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than were men who could do fewer than 10. The push-up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill. No study has been done on women, but ladies, start practicing now. Sure, you can start on your knees.
If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up, your health might be in trouble, according to a study of more than 2,000 people. The study asked people to go from standing to sitting on the floor and back up with as little support as needed. Using their hands to assist in rising correlated strongly with a shorter life expectancy. Researchers found that if subjects needed to use more than one hand to get up and down from the floor that you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years than someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all.
If we scared you, that’s not our intent. We hope you are motivated to get stronger, more mobile and healthier, because moving well is vitally important to overall health and longevity. These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with any of them, a movement assessment is a great way to get back on track. Call today to schedule with your physical therapist at ALTA.