A recent study in the British Medical Journal was highlighted in most newspapers in a somewhat oblique manner, an example being – “Strength of your handshake may indicate how long you will live” (UK Independent). This is not to mean that we all should make a conscious attempt to try to attain a vice-like grip on everyone we meet! Far from it..
To put the findings in a proper perspective, this study originated from a reliable source, a unit of the Medical Research Council of the UK, involving 50,000 people who were followed up to 43 years. It measured four indices of physical activity:
People with the weakest grip had a 67 per cent increased risk of premature death compared with the strongest.
The slowest walkers were 2.8 times more likely to die than the fastest walkers.
Those who were slowest at getting out of a chair had almost twice the death rate of those who were quickest.
Capacity for sustained standing on one foot was linked with a lower death rate.
These four measures are related to a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks, which is of increasing importance in an ageing population. They require strength, balance, muscle power, speed, motor control, mental concentration and adequate heart and lung function. These functions decline with age, contributing to increasing frailty.
This is all very well, but my thoughts are that the one important factor to prolong life that seems to be missing is a person’s will to live. But then again..how does one measure this?
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