People who struggle with simple physical acts such as balancing on one leg are at risk of an early death, according to a new study.
It has long been thought that good balance and core muscle strength indicates a healthy body, and this recent research appears to confirm this.
People who are better at simple physical acts such as gripping, walking, rising from a chair and balancing on one leg are more likely to live longer.
Measures of physical capability, such as grip strength, walking speed, chair rising time and standing balance ability, can predict mortality in older people living in the community, UK researchers found.
These measures are related to a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. There is growing interest in using such measures as simple screening tools to identify people who might benefit from targeted interventions such as strength training.
Researchers, including Rachel Cooper, from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing reviewed 57 studies and found 28 that looked at physical capabilities in people of any age and recorded subsequent mortality. They excluded studies of people in institutions such as hospitals and care homes. The results from 5 other studies were eventually included. Within those studies considered, 14 looked at grip strength, 5 with walking speed and 5 with chair rising.
The team found that, although there was some variation between studies, there was consistent evidence of associations between all four measures of physical capability and mortality – people who performed less well in these tests had a consistently higher risk of death.
Most of the studies were carried out amongst older people, but the association of grip strength with mortality was also found in younger populations.
The authors say that this review has highlighted the lack of studies in this field in younger populations, and they also call for more research to examine the associations between changes in capability with age and mortality, as a steep decline in physical capability may be a better predictor of mortality than is the absolute level at a single point in time.
Many low impact exercises such as those included in Pilates and Yoga sessions can help with improving your core muscle strength. Improving your core muscle strength in turn improves your balance. Making sure you exercise using both the left and right sides of your body equally assists in keeping your body balanced while walking and even standing still.
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