POST 50
04/30/2014 11:51 am ET

Physical Ability In Midlife Could Indicate How Long You'll Live, Study Says

Tom Merton via Getty Images

As the saying goes, a body in motion stays in motion. But a new study says, a body that's not in motion is where the trouble begins.

Researchers from the U.S., U.K., and Norway believe that your physical ability in midlife could provide clues as to how likely you are to survive over the next decade. The study followed over 5,000 adults who were 53 at the start of the study, for 13 years. The subjects self-reported how well they were able to perform a number of routine tasks, such as maintaining balance while standing, standing up after sitting, and gripping.

By the end of the study, 177 subjects had died -- and those who performed poorly on the physical ability tests were more likely to die than their stronger counterparts. About half of the deaths were a result of heart disease, and a quarter from diabetes. Both diseases were more prevalent in people with lower physical ability. And as for those who weren't able to complete any of the physical strength tests -- they were 12 times as likely to die over the course of the study!

Other studies have also shown the usefulness of hand grip tests in predicting whether people can expect to have disabilities later in life.

Researchers say the tests could be used to determine if middle-aged people can expect to live a "long and healthy life." A joint paper found there were significant benefits of even light physical activity in older adults, which could either lessen the risk of disability or slow down the progression.

Staying active has a number of benefits in older adults, who can suffer not only physically but emotionally, as a result of disability and reduce mobility. Exercise can help reduce your risk of falls and fractures, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And of course, the less time you spend sedentary, the better. At any age. Research has also shown that more time spent sitting can up your risk of a range of health problems, including arthritis and stroke.

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