4 Functional Tests To Predict Life Expectancy
The first is an upper body posture and flexibility test, done against a wall. Stand with your back leaning on the wall, feet slightly away from the wall. Next, raise your hands up so that your upper arm is parallel to the floor, elbows bent as if you were waving “hi”. Try to keep your elbows and hands touching the wall. The goal is to see if you can have your whole body from your waist up to your head and hands touching the wall. Think of a snow angel. Also, keep your eyes looking straight ahead. For some people, it may be difficult for you to have your hands and head touching the wall because of poor posture and stiffness especially in your upper back. This can affect your breathing, muscle strength and increase your risk of falling.
2. Grip Strength
Using a device called a hand dynamometer, your hand grip strength is measured and compared against normal ranges, based on your age, gender and the hand being tested. Your grip strength measures how well your neck, upper back and shoulders are functioning as you need all three to be healthy and working properly in order to have a strong grip. A weak grip can mean having a harder time opening jars or carrying groceries. A strong grip has been linked to less muscle weakness, fewer cardiovascular and lung issues as well as healthier blood pressure.
The dreaded plank! This is done in a position similar to a push-up, except that you will be on your toes and forearms as opposed to on your hands. Keep the rest of your body straight, avoiding angling your hips upwards. Stay in this position for as long as you can and your time is then compared to recommended ranges, based on your age. Remember to breathe! If you notice any pain, stop and that will be your score. Good core strength is needed to perform well in the plank test. With a strong core, you will be more balanced, better able to do most physical tasks and less likely to get injured.
A squat test will give you an idea of how flexible your hips are. Squat down as low as you can, trying to get your gluts to touch your feet. The angle formed at your knees is then measured. The goal is to get at least 135o of knee bend. If you have limited flexibility in your hips, you may have more trouble managing stairs and picking things up off the ground, instead putting more strain on your lower back.