Working out how long you’ve got to live could all come down to sitting down and standing on one leg. Scientists believe that some simple tests are able to predict whether someone in middle age is at risk of an early death.
Men of 53 who can stand up and sit down fewer than 23 times a minute – 22 times for women – are twice as likely to die before reaching 66, researchers have found.
Conversely the ability to balance on one leg for more than 10 seconds with eyes closed, and to stand up and sit down in a chair 37 times in 60 seconds –or 35 times for women – makes it extremely likely that a 53-year-old will still be healthy 13 years later.
The study by the Medical Research Council tracked 5,000 people born in 1946 throughout their lives. Aged 53 they completed the tests during home visits from specially trained nurses. In the standing on one leg with eyes closed test, men and women were able to hold the position for less than two seconds were three times more likely to die before the age of 66 than those who could hold it for 10 seconds or more.
Those unable to do the test at all were more likely to die in the following 13 years.
Dr Rachel Cooper at the Medical Research Council said: “The majority of these studies are done in older people but we have shown that even in this younger age group, where you would not expect pre-existing disease, we are still seeing these measures are picking up some underlying ageing and disease process.”