The American Heart Association encourages people to “know their numbers” referring to blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research is now showing that moving properly is also important for health.
Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in medical literature recently. Like blood pressure or heart rate, it is quick and easy to measure. It also tells medical staff a lot about your health. Walking speed has been shown to be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is considered to be 1.2 to 1.4 meters per second.
How many push ups you can do without stopping can also give a picture of your health. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than men who could do less than 10. The push up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill.
If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up your health might be in trouble, according to a study that looked at more than 2,000 people. They found that if you need to use more than one hand to get up and down from the floor, you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years than someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all.
What You Can Do
Moving well is obviously important to overall health and longer life. These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with any of them, consider seeing a movement specialist – your physical therapist.
For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.