What is the best physical predictor of early physical decline? Is there one best test? Yes, try one of these three.
- The ladder test: Changing that light bulb with ease is an indication that you are still in rude health – well done! Upper body strength, a good sense of balance and a lack of evidence of osteo-arthritis in the neck are all positive signs.
- The Get-up-and-Go test: This test, undertaken by men over 70, measured the speed with which they were able to get up from a seated position and gain momentum: walking faster than 5km/hour was an indicator of delayed physical decline.
- I’m OK test: This test is a far more general one. Do you sense a decline in your confidence as you interface with the world? Is there a feeling of uncertainty, a reluctance to tackle unfamiliar tasks or venture into unknown territory? This lack of confidence suggests an early physical decline.
So, what to do if you fail any of these tests?
Just do it! Get going – do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. You are welcome to break it up into three sessions of 10 minutes, or two of 15, but just get going. Make sure your break a sweat, and, if you are walking with a companion, see if you can still talk to him or her while you are walking with momentum (if there is no-one with you, you can still test your fitness by chatting, but perhaps disguise that movement of the mouth – it will not be your physical fitness that is called into question!).
In addition, you must get some strength training in – you want to build your core, maintain muscle and safeguard bone mass through the production of calcium.
Want to reduce your risk of dementia by 40%? Read next month’s blog to find out how.