Top-4 Indicators of a Long Life

How long will you live?

If you express these 4 traits, longer than most.

For even the healthiest of people, the longest life is still relatively short. For this reason we should all be concerned with maximizing not only our time in this life, but the quality therein. So how can you best measure the potential for a long and happy life? Though we're all familiar with the basics- move daily, eat fresh food, drink water, etc.- studies show that there are 4 simple traits that speak volumes about the prediction of long-term health & independence.

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Grip Strength

 

Can you carry your grocery bags without issue and easily open jars at home? Can you hang on to a pull-up or monkey bar? According to international Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, if you have good grip strength, you will live a long life.

The PURE study measured grip strength, using a dynamometer, in nearly 140,000 adults through 17 countries and followed their health for an average of four years. Grip strength provides a simple and low-risk tool for assessing overall muscular strength and is suggested to be a sound indicator of biological age.

According to PURE, each 11-pound decrease in grip strength over the course of the study was linked to a 16% higher risk of dying from any cause, a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, a 9% higher risk of stroke, and a 7% higher risk of heart attack.

The study adjusted for factors such as age, income bracket, smoking, and exercise, and concluded that grip strength was an even better predictor of death or cardiovascular disease than high blood pressure.

Conclusion

Muscular strength is important for survival and serves as a positive sign of overall health and biological age. Grip strength is the simplest expression of muscular strength, so hold on tight for a long life.

live long grip

Sitting to Rising

 

How easily are you able to sit down to the floor and stand back up? According to a Brazilian study from 2014, the ability to do so can tell us a lot about how long someone will live given it's correlation to overall mobility, coordination, and relative strength.

The SRT Study (Standing-Rising Test) looked at over 2,000 patients between the ages 51 to 80. Subjects who scored fewer than 8 points on the test (out of 10), were twice (2x) as likely to die within the next six years compared with those who scored 8 or above; while those who scored 3 or fewer points were more than five times (5x) as likely to die within the same time period.

According to the study, each single-point increase in the SRT score was associated with a 21% improvement in survival (aka a decrease  in the chance of dying from any/all causes).

The test:

  1. Stand in comfortable clothes with clear space around you.
  2. Without assistance, lower yourself to a sitting position on the floor with control.
  3. Stand back up, trying not to use your hands, knees, forearms or sides of your legs as assistance.
Scoring:
The overall movement is scored on a scale of 1-10 with the descent & ascent each awarded 5 points.
One point is subtracted each time a hand, knee, forearm, or support is used and 0.5 points is deducted for loss of balance at either end of the movement.

long life

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Images courtesy Roen Kelly from Discover Magazine November 2013 Issue

Conclusion

If you score at least 8/10 on the SRT, your chances of a long life remain high. If you score lower than 8/10, your relative strength and mobility are areas you can address to improve your quality of life longterm: there is opportunity to make daily tasks easier with simple daily actions.

Walking Speed

 

Do you walk fast or slow? According to an analysis published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), walking speed is a reliable predictor of overall lifespan and is especially useful in determining life expectancy for adults living independently.

Stephanie Studenski and her colleagues analyzed nine cohort studies of community-dwelling adults 65 and older. Of the 34,485 adults in the studies, people with average life expectancy walked at about 0.8 meters per second. For individuals with a gait speed of 1.0 meter per second or faster, survival was longer than expected when they controlled for age and sex.

Although walking is a simple activity, it is an important marker of longevity due the necessary synergy required by all systems of the body: circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, muscular, nervous, etc. If there is a decrease in the health of one system, walking speed is likely to show it. For this reason, Studenski hypothesizes that tracking walking speed over time is most important, as a drop in pace can indicate a new underlying health problem.

As a slight aside, there are many small (50-80) cohort studies showing the benefits of walking programs as it relates to chronic non-specific low back pain (CLBP): an issue much of our population encounters within their life time. From ease of implementation (breeding greater compliance), to pain reduction, improved cardiovascular capacity, increased self-reported mood, and positive changes in muscle tone, walking is proving to be one of the simplest and most effective strategies for management of CLBP.

Conclusion

When something is wrong with health, walking speed decreases. Walk with a purpose, and if you cannot or have noticeably slowed down without clear reason, investigate with your physician or other qualified health care practitioner.

Purpose in Life

 

What is your purpose in life? Is there something that drives you daily? According to research published in 2014 in the journal Psychological Sciencehaving a sense of purpose correlates to a longer life.

The researchers looked at data from the Midlife in the United States study (MIDUS) with over 6,000 participants, focusing on questions surrounding purpose in life and other psychosocial variables that gauged positive relations with others and experiences of positive and negative emotion.

Over a 14-year follow-up period, those who passed away (almost 10% of the participants) had reported lower scores for purpose in life and had fewer positive relations than those still living.

A greater score in purpose consistently predicted lower mortality risk across lifespan, even when controlling for age (younger, middle-aged, or older). Lead researcher Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada stated that: “Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose, so the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”

Conclusion

For a long life, live your life with love and purpose every day. As one of Move Daily's mentors so eloquently put we have the Power of the Mind which moulds motion, then body, and in turn, function.

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Summary

Having a happy, healthful, long life is ultimately the result of prolonged physical and mental health. According to the research cited, the traits linked to a long life are:

  • Maintenance of flexibility, balance and lower body strength to enable you to sit to the ground and stand-up without issue.
  • Muscular strength and the ability to express this with quality grip strength.
  • Maintaining a walking speed of at least 1.0 meter per second no matter your age.
  • Living every day with a clear purpose and direction.

Distilled down even further into tangible habits, the keys to a long life are:

  • Daily movement
  • Occasional physical labour or resistance training
  • Walking & Moving with a purpose
  • Living with love

For more information on optimizing your longevity and quality of life, read about the Move Daily Pillars of Health.