Scientists and health professionals suggest that everyday activities may indicate your long-term health in a more affordable and convenient way than an MRI scan or a blood test.
These activities seem easy and unimportant, but become more difficult to accomplish as you age.
Completing the following tests will help you assess your current health and predict future health problems.
1. Balance Yourself On One Leg
See how long you can stand on one leg without closing your eyes.
All you need to do is stand up, raise one leg behind you (bent at your knee) and maintain your balance for as long as possible.
Do it twice, timing yourself on each occasion, and calculate your average. 60 seconds or more is an indication of good health. 20 seconds or less may indicate future brain problems.
In fact, one study (1) found “that imbalance strongly correlates with the presence of tiny lesions, or microbleeds, in the brain, which can be there even when you’re otherwise feeling healthy. Over time these microbleeds can lead to serious issues such as stroke and dementia.” via Forbes
2. Sit Down And Get Up Without Assistance
Sitting down and getting up may seem easy, but many people have difficulty accomplishing this simple task, especially without the use of their hands or knees.
Just try it yourself and see how you do. If you can’t get up or sit down on your own, you may be at a higher risk of premature death.
In a Brazilian study (2), 2002 men and women ages 51 to 80 were followed for an average of 6.3 years, and those who needed to use both hands and knees to get up and down (whether they were middle-aged or elderly) were almost seven times more likely to die within six years than those who could spring up and down without support.
“It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival,” study author Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo, a professor at Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro, has said, “but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, and coordination also has a favorable influence on life expectancy.” via Prevention
3. Can You Touch Your Toes While Seated?
Touching your toes isn’t as easy at it looks.
By the time you’re 40 years old, it may even seem like a daunting task, but research is showing that flexibility may have a bigger role in health than we expect.
A provocative study published in the journal Heart and Circulatory Physiology (3) suggests that a less flexible body indicates arterial stiffening.
Supple arterial walls allow the blood to move freely through the body.
Stiff arteries require the heart to work much harder to force blood through the unyielding vessels.
Over time this could contribute to a greater risk for heart attack and stroke, warns Kenta Yamamoto, a researcher at North Texas and lead author of the study.
The result of this study was a clear correlation between inflexible bodies and inflexible arteries in subjects older than 40. via NewYorkTimes
How to Increase Your Lifespan
The common denominators of these three tests is flexibility, muscle strength and balance.
Although the first test assesses brain health, practicing balance-based low-intensity fitness like yoga would prove beneficial in strengthening the mind-body link and well as promoting overall health and fitness.
The second test assesses musculoskeletal fitness, which can be improved through bodyweight exercises and weight training.
Finally, regular stretching and pilates can help improve flexibility of your muscles and arteries, helping you reach those toes!
Just remember that longevity is the prize of living a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet, regular exercise and a good night’s sleep.