ARE you fit for your age or destined for an early death?
It’s never been simpler to find out.
Here are seven speedy health checks to help you establish your risk of complications as you get older, and whether your life could be in danger.
The best part? They all take less than 15 minutes, and you can do most of them in your living room.
1. Push it
How many press-ups can you do? The number could be a good indicator of your risk of heart disease, scientists say.
A study of 1,104 middle-aged men, published in JAMA Network Open in 2019, found that the more people managed, the lower their risk of death of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Fewer than 11 indicated a higher-than-average risk, but more than 40 in one go slashed it by 96 per cent.
To perform the perfect push-up, lie on your stomach with your legs out straight and hands either side of your chest.
Push yourself up so your arms are straight, your stomach and pelvis are off the floor and you’re on your toes, but don’t lock your elbows.
Once here, bend your elbows and lower yourself almost to the ground.
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While contracting your chest muscles, push yourself back up to the starting position. Do this as many times as you can in a row.
2. Take the SAGE
A 15-minute screening, that can be carried out at home, can indicate early signs of mental decline, which in turn can suggest a risk of dementia.
The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) asks participants 12 questions, testing their cognitive function.
These range from writing today’s date, to naming animals, to calculating how much change you should receive when doing your shopping.
All you have to do is print the relevant pages, pick up a pen or pencil, and complete the task without help from others.
There is no time limit, but most people take 10 to 15 minutes.
The maximum score is 22. A score of 17 and above is considered normal.
If you score below this or struggle with the test, developed by scientists at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in the US, speak to your GP.
Researchers found that 28 per cent of the 1,000 people they studied who took the test had a mild loss of mental functioning, which closely matched the results from detailed diagnostic checks carried out by health experts.
You can take the test here.
3. Balancing act
People who struggle stand on one leg are more likely to die within the next decade, a study suggests.
Scientists in Brazil found those who couldn’t hold the one-legged balance for at least 10 seconds were 84 per cent more likely to pass away from any cause within 10 years than those who could.
Want to give it a go yourself? Simply stand with both feet flat on the ground, then lift your right or left foot and place it behind the calf muscle of your other leg.
Keeping your elbows straight, with your arms by your side, and your gaze straight ahead, hold this position for as long as you can.
If you’re worried you might fall, make sure a chair, table or friend is nearby.
Those who can’t complete the task should contact their GP as it indicates frailty and increased risk of falls.
An estimated 684,00 people die from falls every year worldwide, with many others suffering complications which eventually result in death.
4. Sit to stand
There are two versions of the sit-to-stand test – one from a chair, and one from the floor.
The first involves timing how long it takes you to stand up from sitting in a chair without arms, and sit back down again.
You must do it five times, with your arms crossed over your chest.
The average person in their 60s should be able to do this sequence in under 11.4 seconds, someone in their 70s in under 12.6 seconds, and in their 80s in under 14.8 seconds, a meta-analysis found.
The second version is slightly harder as you must start sitting on the floor. From here, stand up with minimal support.
A Brazilian study, published in 2012, found middle-aged people (50 and over) and elderly participants (75 and over) who needed to use both hands and knees to get up and down were five to six times more likely to die within six years.
5. Get a grip
Scientists reckon grip strength is another good measure of a person’s health.
You can test this from a simple handshake, or by hanging from a pull-up or monkey bars for as long as possible.
Experts say a reasonable target for men is 60 seconds and women is 30 seconds.
In a study of more than half a million people, blokes who only managed 30 seconds and women 15 seconds were more likely to die prematurely.
6. Aim higher
Timing how long it takes to climb 60 steps (about four flights of stairs) can predict your chances of heart problems and risk of death, research suggests.
Doing it in less than one minute is the goal for anyone middle-aged, scientists found.
Any more than that, particularly if above 90 seconds, indicates your health is “sub-optimal”, they added.
People who took this long were 30 per cent more likely to be dead within a decade, the study presented in 2020 found.
7. Step to it
People in their 60s with average life expectancy walk at about 0.8 metres per second, a study at the University of Pittsburgh found.
Those with a gait speed of one metre per second or faster are more likely to survive longer, scientists say, with those at 1.2 metres per second likely to live “exceptionally” long.
But anyone slower than 0.6 metres per second may have “damaged bodily systems” and be at increased risk of early mortality.
You can test yourself by timing how long it takes you to walk six metres at your normal pace, then dividing it by six.
Experts disagree slightly on the “right” speed for your age group, but generally they say you’re in line with average if yours is:
- 20 to 29 – 1.34 to 1.36 metres per second
- 30 to 39 – 1.34 to 1.43 metres per second
- 40 to 49 – 1.39 to 1.43 metres per second
- 50 to 59 – 1.31 to 1.43 metres per second
- 60 to 69 – 1.24 to 1.34 metres per second
- 70 to 79 – 1.13 to 1.26 metres per second
- 80 to 89 – 0.94 to 0.97 metres per second