1. Sit-Stand Test: The ability to sit down and stand up without bracing yourself with your hands, arms, or knees — demonstrating a level of musculoskeletal fitness that requires flexibility, balance, coordination, strength, and power — has been linked to a longer lifespan.
2. Pushup Capacity: A 2019 study linked pushup capacity to a lower risk of heart disease. The study, which followed 1,104 middle-aged, active male firefighters over the span of 10 years, found that those who could complete 40 pushups in the baseline exam had a 96 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease during the 10 years studied than those who could do fewer than 10 pushups. The results may not be generalizable to women or to men of other ages or who are less active, the study authors note. (For a form check on your pushups and tips to build your muscular endurance, check out “BREAK IT DOWN: The Pushup“.)
3. Walking Speed: A 2006 study concluded that regularly walking at a faster-than-average pace reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 53 percent for people 60 and older. The study also found that just walking at an average pace offered a 46 percent reduction in mortality risk for participants. (For details on refining your full-body walking stride, see “Relearn to Walk“; for a walking workout that adds strength to your speed, visit “How to Do a 30-Minute Walking Workout“.)
4. Grip Strength: A 2018 study found that an 11-pound decrease in grip strength, as measured by squeezing a hand dynamometer, was associated with a 16 percent (men) and 20 percent (women) increase in mortality from all causes. (For ideas to improve your grip strength see “How to Improve Your Grip” and “6 Tips to Build Grip Strength“.)
No matter which marker you consider, the message from researchers is the same: Move! Moving your body and finding the balance of strength, cardio, mobility, and coordination work that’s right for you is critical for aging well. (To learn more about staying fit for life, check out “Fit for Life: You’re Never Too Old to Get Moving“.)
This was excerpted from “6 Exercises to Help You Get Down on the Floor — and Up Off the Floor – With Ease” written by senior editor, Maggie Fard, and originally published in the January/February 2023 issue of Experience Life.