50+ health * Healthy living

Can a handshake predict a longer life?

Can a handshake predict a longer life? Time to firm up that grip

People with a firm handshake and a speedy walk are more likely to live longer, according to research.

Simple physical acts such as gripping, walking, rising from a chair and balancing on one leg may predict how long a person will live, scientists from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) said.

Researchers analysed the findings from 33 studies worldwide involving 50,000 men and women who were followed for up to 43 years.

In the 14 studies that looked at grip strength, those with the weakest grip were more likely to die earlier than those with the strongest grip.

When it came to walking speed, results from five studies showed the slowest walkers were almost three times more likely to die earlier than those who were the fastest.

Although most of the studies were carried out among older people, the scientists said the link between grip strength and life expectancy was also true for younger adults.

Lead author Dr Rachel Cooper, from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, said: “Simple non-invasive assessment measures like these, that are linked to current and future health, could help doctors identify those most vulnerable to poor health in later life and who may benefit from early intervention to keep them active for longer.

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal today.

This article was published on Fri 10 September 2010

Image © Marc Dietrich - Fotolia.com

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