Most people think of heart rate or blood pressure when they think of vital signs. It is common to use numbers to quantify health and risk of disease. The American Heart Association encourages people to “know their numbers,” referring to blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research is now showing the importance of moving properly for health. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers you can use to quantify your movement health.

Walking Speed

Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in medical literature recently. It is easy to measure, and takes into account strength, balance, coordination, confidence, cardiovascular fitness, and tolerance to activity. It has also been shown to be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is considered to be 1.2 to 1.4 meters per second (which is equivalent to approximately 3.2 miles per hour).

Push-Ups

Push-ups are popular to build strength, but a recent study found that they can show us a lot about your heart, too. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push-ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than were men who could do less than 10. The push-up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill.

Grip Strength

Hand grip strength has been shown to be strongly correlated with health. The stronger your hand grip is, the less likely you are to suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, COPD, and all types of cancer. In the study, muscle weakness was defined as grip strength <26 kg for men and <16 kg for women. Grip strength below these numbers was highly correlated with an increase in disease.

Standing from the Floor

If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up, your health might be in trouble, according to a study that looked at more than 2,000 people. The study asked people to go from standing to sitting on the floor and back up with as little support as needed. They found that if you need to use more than one hand to get up and down that you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years, compared to someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all.

 

Of course, we’re not trying to scare you. Rather, we want you to be aware of movement impairments that may impact your longevity. If we can improve your ability to move (through physical therapy and exercise), imagine how much more you could do! At Peak Form, we take your health seriously. Moving well is important to overall health and longer life. You can also take our Fit Factor survey to determine what your movement vital signs might look like, and bring it with you to your physical therapy appointment. Questions? Contact us today for an appointment!