As movement teachers we are always interested in the latest research on longevity, and the signs of ageing. We understand the importance of looking beyond the traditional signs of ageing when assessing overall health and well-being. Here's what the latest research reveals about the less well-known indicators of ageing.

Grip Strength

Studies have shown a strong correlation between declining grip strength and increased mortality, frailty risk, and cardiovascular disease in older adults. Weakening grip strength is likely linked to sarcopenia (muscle loss), reduced bone mineral density, and neurological changes impacting nerve-muscle connections.

Grip strength is a simple and inexpensive indicator of overall health and functional capacity. To improve your grip strength, as well as wrist strength, start with using small dumbbells in your fitness routines and performing wrist curls. In addition, work at holding your plank poses (lower the knees if necessary), or any posture where you're bearing weight through your hands and wrists, spreading your fingers wide, and rotating your forearms towards each other.

Ability to Squat

Research tells us that an inability to perform a full squat (deep squat) is associated with an increased risk of falls, disability, and mortality in older adults. From a fitness and anatomical standpoint, this makes sense. Difficulty squatting often reflects decreased hip mobility and flexibility, decreased ankle and knee mobility, and decreased leg strength, all of which are essential skills for simple daily activities such as bending down or getting down to the floor and getting back up, and standing up from a chair. Squatting has also been linked with increased longevity. Assessing squat ability can provide valuable insights into functional mobility and potential risk of falls.

Tip: In yoga, work on your Malasana, or Yogi Squat. Use a chair for support as you learn to squat deeper, and/or blocks to sit on whilst you improve your range of movement.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Numerous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to an increased risk of various age-related conditions like muscle weakness, osteoporosis, cognitive decline, and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone health, muscle function, and immune function. Deficiency can impact these systems and contribute to age-related decline. Assessing vitamin D levels is vital, as deficiency is a treatable risk factor for various age-related issues.

Additional Considerations:

The nature of ageing is multifactorial. These indicators, along with others like gait speed, cognitive function, the health of the microbiome, and even social engagement, should be considered within a holistic framework when assessing ageing individuals.

As with every aspect of health and wellness, identifying and addressing these less well-known signs of ageing early can help prevent or delay further decline and improve quality of life as we age.

Resources for further exploration:

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM): https://www.acsm.org/
The National Institute on Ageing (NIA): https://www.nia.nih.gov/

Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals, and this information should not be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalised guidance and recommendations.

Please share this post with anyone you think would benefit. Thank you. H & L-A