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In the journals: Grip strength and other physical measures predict lifespan

Updated: December 01, 2010

Older people who have good grip strength, can walk at a decent pace, are able to rise quickly from a chair, and can balance on one leg are likely to live longer than older people who have trouble with these tasks, according to a meta-analysis published online Sept. 10, 2010, in the medical journal BMJ. These simple tests of physical strength are often used to assess physical capability, meaning a person's ability to perform everyday tasks. This study concludes that these measures also help identify people at higher risk of death — and thus more likely to benefit from medical and lifestyle interventions.

The study. British researchers screened the medical literature and identified 28 observational studies that examined the relationship between mortality and at least one of the aforementioned measures of physical capability (grip strength, walking speed, chair rises, and standing balance) in community-dwelling women and men. The researchers combined the data and assessed the risk of dying early for each of the four measures.

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