Three simple tests predicting when our lives will end…

Just a bit morbid don’t you think?

Since 1946 the Medical Research council have been undertaking tests of 5000 people born in this year, at the age of 53 they completed the tests named ‘Longevity tests’ during home visits with specially trained nurses. These tests are supposedly able to measure an individual’s personal fitness levels and then give them a predicted age of which they will live to.

The tests incorporate three major areas that determine a person’s level of fitness, and these include; balance, strength, and endurance. To test their balance participants were asked to stand on one leg with their eyes closed for as long as possible and were timed using a stop watch. Those who managed to stand for longer than ten seconds were deemed the healthiest men and women and those who managed less than three seconds were deemed the unhealthiest. What you may find shocking is that those 53 year old who could only manage three seconds balancing- with one foot mid-air were five times more likely to die within 13 years. If you are a 53 year old reading this and cannot balance at all, I’m sorry to say but researchers predict that you are, sit down before you topple over, 12 times more likely to die within the next 13 years.

Another area that participants were tested on was their strength of gripping, this was measured with an electronic handgrip dynamometer which subjects had to squeeze as forcefully as they could. After squeezing with both hands the greatest result was recorded in kilos. Men in the test who performed the worst squeezed 47.8 kg, and those who performed best managed 54.5 kg. In women the best result was 33.9 kg and the worst 27.9kg.

The last test that the participants undertook was a test rather resembling musical chairs- individuals had to sit up and down again in a chair as many times as they could within 1 minute. The performers deemed the ‘healthiest’ managed to do this 37 times in one minute (35 for women) and the unhealthiest ones- the ones more likely to die sooner were able to sit up and down 23 times in one minute (22 for women).

After completing all of the tests researchers combined all three test results into one score- giving an average of all of the results combined. Those who performed the worst were 5 times more likely to die within the next 13 years of their life than the ones who performed the best.

The Longevity tests are usually only undertaken on much older people but from the results that have been found the researchers have proven that these tests are also very useful for predicting health problems in the middle aged. By undertaking the tests doctors can identify people who are in need of making changes to their lifestyle in order to steer clear of ill health and fundamentally enabling people to live longer.

The Medical research centre are not the only ones who have found that being fitter with a higher endurance level can benefit health. In the British Medical Journal American researchers found that increasing physical activity- even by just a slight amount per day (1 hour per week more) had a huge effect on lessening the effect on people who suffer with or already have arthritis of the knee. People with arthritis who did four and a quarter hours of exercise per week were 43% less likely to develop disabilities e.g.: shopping, cooking, cleaning etc: compared to people who only did 3 and a quarter hours per week.

So to sum up, if you are 53 and don’t do any physical activity you ought to start soon, taking a gentle stroll in the park could just save your life (for thirteen years).

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