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Movement for life

The connection between life expectancy and cholesterol has been publicised for decades, but now researchers have discovered an accurate gauge of a person’s life expectancy based on their physical capabilities.

One of the most accurate measures of who will live the longest is how firm your handshake is. Doctors can also use the time taken to get up from chair and how fast you can walk as an indicator of life expectancy, and whether or not you are able to stand on one leg.

From 14 studies (including 53,476 participants) that dealt with grip strength, the death rate among the weakest people was 1.67 times greater than amount the strongest people, after taking age, sex and body size into account.

In other studies that dealt with walking speed, the death rate among people who were slowest was 2.87 times greater than among the people who were fastest, after similar adjustments.

Five studies (including 28,036 people) that dealt with chair rising showed that the death rate of people who were the slowest was almost twice the rate of people who were fastest at this physical task.

Most of the studies were carried out amongst older people, but the association of grip strength with mortality was also found in younger populations.

Reference: BMJ-British Medical Journal (10 September 2010. ‘Basic physical capability can predict mortality in later life.’)


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