FRIDAY, Sept. 10, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Testing simple physical abilities may help predict a person's risk of death, suggests a new study.
Measuring basic capabilities such as grip strength, walking speed, rising from a chair, or balancing on one leg reveal a person's capacity to perform everyday tasks, explained the researchers at University College London in the United Kingdom.
The study authors analyzed 33 studies that examined physical capabilities in people of any age and recorded subsequent deaths among the participants. Overall, those who had poorer results on physical function tests had a consistently higher risk of death.
In 14 studies that included a total of 53,476 people, the death rate was 1.67 times higher for people with the weakest grip strength than for those with the strongest grip.
Five studies that included a total of 14,692 people found that the death rate was 2.87 times higher for the slowest walkers than for the fastest walkers.
Five studies that included a total of 28,036 people found that the death rate was nearly twice as high for people who were slowest to rise from a chair than for those who were quickest at this task.
While most of the studies included older people, the association between grip strength and death risk was also found in younger adults, the researchers said.
The study was published online Sept. 10 in the BMJ.
Screening tests that assess physical abilities may help identify people at increased risk of death who might benefit from targeted interventions such as strength training, the researchers said.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about seniors and exercise.