Movement Tests to Predict Your Health
By Western Berks Physical Therapy on April 15th, 2021
Your Movement Can Predict Your Future Health with 2 Simple Tests
Strong evidence suggests that movement is a valuable predictor of future health and resilience against disease. If your goal is to live a longer, healthier life, seeing a physical therapist makes sense, given their expertise in human movement. Here are two simple tests to try plus some examples of the predictive power of movement:
Gait velocity is how fast you walk. If your typical walking speed is over 3.3 feet per second, you’re likely able to complete typical daily activities independently. You’re also less likely to be hospitalized or to have an adverse event like a fall.
To test yourself, measure out a straight, flat course to walk between 10′ and 30′ long. You’ll also need 5 feet or so at the beginning and the end for acceleration and deceleration. Walk the course at your typical speed and divide the length of the course by how long you took to complete it (distance divided by time). That will give you your gait velocity.
Get On and Off the Floor
Another series of studies suggest that if you can go from standing to sitting on the floor, then back to standing without using your hands, you’re a lot less likely to die than someone who can’t. It’s called the sitting-rising test. Here’s how it works:
You start standing and without support, you sit down on the floor, then stand back up. You start with a score of 10. Every time you put a hand, knee, forearm or the side of your leg on the floor you lose 1 point. Putting a hand on your knee or thigh to help also costs a point.
In a sample of over 2,000 people, they found that scoring less than 8 points made you twice as likely to die in the next 6 years when compared to people who scored higher. Score 3 or less and you’re 5 times more likely to die in the same period. Overall, each point in the test is worth a 21% decrease in mortality from all causes.
Notice that both gait velocity and the sitting-rising test aren’t specific. The risk of hospitalization in the gait velocity studies was for any reason. Death in the sitting-rising studies was death from anything. So while we know that exercise and a healthy lifestyle reduce your risk of specific diseases like heart disease or diabetes, it appears that being able to move well provides more wide ranging health protection than we previously thought.
Moving well is important to overall health and longer life. These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with either of them, our physical therapists should be your first stop for movement issues. Not only can our physical therapists provide an accurate movement diagnosis, they will also design a treatment plan to correct the underlying issues and help get you moving well again!
Call 610-589-2263 to schedule today or request an appointment online at the link below.