A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generatedKnow Your Movement Numbers - Simple Tests Can Predict Future Health

Shanda McNew - PRO PT

The American Heart Association encourages people to "know their numbers" referring to blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research now shows that moving properly is also important for long-term health. Testing to determine fall risk, functional strength, and activity stamina are crucial to pinpoint mobility issues before serious problems arise.

Walking speed is often called the "sixth vital sign" and like blood pressure and heart rate, it is quick and easy to measure. Slower walking speeds can be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional  decline, and increased mortality. Normal walking speed is 1.3 meters per second. A simple test is to see how long it takes you to walk 10 meters - while the normal ranges vary based on your age, taking longer than 9 seconds to walk that distance signifies a problem.  

Can you stand up from a chair without using your arms? This is another predictor of your movement health that measures leg strength, endurance, balance, and fall risk. A simple test is to see how many times you can rise from a chair in 30 seconds. These norms are also age dependent, but if your starting point is less than 12, your health and mobility might be in trouble. Needing to use more than one hand to get up and down reveals a strength problem compared to someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all. 

Moving well is obviously important to overall health and living a longer, more active life. These two simple tests can give you a snapshot of how you're doing. If you score below the normal ranges, consider seeing your physical therapist or your doctor to see where you should start.