Here’s an eye-opener if you want to know how long you’ll live: find out how fast you walk. I want to share an article from the January 2011 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

Your walking speed and ability to rise from a chair are surprisingly effective at predicting your longevity. In a study of more than 3,000 healthy retirees, for example, those with the slowest gait were about 50 percent more likely to die within seven years. Take these tests to see how you compare.

Walking Speed: In a hallway, mark start and finish lines six meters (19 feet, 8 inches) apart. Have a partner time you. Walk briskly but don’t run, and stride past the finish line without slowing. Divide the time in seconds by six to get meters per second. Average: 0.9 meters per second for people over 50.

One-Leg Balance: With bare feet, stand with your arms folded across your chest. Raise one foot slightly off the ground and have someone start a stopwatch, stopping when you uncross your arms, move the leg you’re standing on, or touch the raised foot to the floor. (Stand next to a counter or piece of furniture). Average: 43 seconds for 18- to 39-year olds; 40 seconds for 40- to 49-year olds; 37 seconds for 50- to 59-year olds; and 27 seconds for 60- to 69-year olds. (With eyes closed: 9 seconds for 18- to 39-year olds; 7 seconds for 40- to 49-year olds; 5 seconds for 50- to 59 -year olds; and less than 3 seconds for those older than 60).

Chair Stands (for people 70 and older): Stand up from a chair five times in a row as quickly as possible without stopping. Keep your arms folded across your chest, come to a full standing position each time, and sit all the way down each time. The clock should be stopped when your bottom hits the seat the fifth time. Average: 14.28 seconds for women and men.

Sit-ups (for people younger than 70): Lie on your back with your knees bent at a right angle and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands palms down on the ground next to your body, and with your lower back kept flat on the ground, curl up your shoulders so your fingers slide forward about 3.5 inches, then return your shoulders to the floor. Count the number you can complete in one minute. Averages for women: 25 for women 40 to 49; 31 for those 50 to 59; and 12 for those 60 to 69. Averages for men: 33 for men 40 to 49; 39 for those 50 to 59; and 18 for those 60 to 69.

Practice makes perfect so if these exercises can determine how long you will live and you want to live a long life, it’s time to get moving! A long life to all of you.

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