Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic, Islington, London

Simple Tests That Predict Your Mortality – but you can improve your score!

Most research studies looking at physical capability and disability look at older age groups – 64 years plus. A recent study published in the BMJ however looked at a large group (3000 odd) of 53 year-olds in 1999 and assessed their ability to perform 3 basic tests: stand up and sit down on a chair over a measured period of time; balance on one foot with the eyes closed and hand grip strength. This group was then followed up 13 years later in 2012 and mortality rates were analyzed and compared to the earlier performance results.

Results showed that those that performed poorly in the tests especially the standing balance test were more likely to die earlier  than the strong performers. This study indicates that there may be simple screening tests that can pinpoint at-risk individuals and offer early intervention such as advice on lifestyle changes.

I wonder if it also means that if you practised and got good at these tests you would also improve your chances of living longer. As they are a variety of activities testing different things -upper limb strength, lower limb strength and coordination and balance – they fairly reasonably represent a level of general physical fitness and as such might be worthwhile including as a fairly basic exercise programme. Most exercise and activity programmes target walking and lower limb activity so the inclusion of grip strength is to be welcomed in encouraging upper body strength and balance activities are often forgotten.

If you would like any advice on starting an exercise programme or reviewing any exercises that you might be doing please feel free to contact us.

Ref: Physical capability in mid-life and survival over 13 years of follow-up: British birth cohort study, Cooper R and Associates

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 29 April 2014)

"The exercises you worked out for me were wonderful. They had an immediate effect so that by the end of the following week I actually had a pain-free day. Seeing you was really the turning point and I am extremely grateful."


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