Three simple tests performed in middle age may be able to predict survival in old age. The tests are the strength of one’s grip, speed in rising out of a chair and ability to balance on one leg with the eyes closed.
Researchers from University College London looked at how performance on these tests at the age of 53 was related to survival over the next 13 years (up to age 66) in over 2700 people. They found that the people who performed the worst on these tests were far more likely to die from any cause than those who performed the best.
It is well known that physical activity in linked to better survival in old age, but what makes this new study so important is that is shows that physical capability in middle age might be used to predict underlying pathological processes that are likely to lead to disease in later life. Knowing this, more people might make healthy lifestyle changes earlier, before a serious disease has taken root in their body.
(Source: British Medical Journal 2014;348:g2219.)