Physical activity and mortality

January 01, 0001

Physical activity and mortality

These british researchers performed a quantitative systematic review examining physical capability and its relationship to mortality. They utilized Embase, Medline, and manual searching of reference lists. Additional unpublished results were obtained from study investigators. Accepted measures of physical capability were grip strength, walking speed, chair rises, and standing balance.

The researchers found: "Although heterogeneity was detected, consistent evidence was found of associations between all four measures of physical capability and mortality. Those people who performed less well in these tests were found to be at higher risk of all cause mortality. For example, the summary hazard ratio for mortality comparing the weakest with the strongest quarter of grip strength (14 studies, 53,476 participants) was 1.67 after adjustment for age, sex, and body size. The summary hazard ratio for mortality comparing the slowest with the fastest quarter of walking speed (five studies, 14,692 participants) was 2.87 after similar adjustments. Whereas studies of the associations of walking speed, chair rising, and standing balance with mortality have only been done in older populations (average age over 70 years), the association of grip strength with mortality was also found in younger populations (five studies had an average age under 60 years)."

The researchers concluded: "Objective measures of physical capability are predictors of all cause mortality in older community dwelling populations. Such measures may therefore provide useful tools for identifying older people at higher risk of death."

This meta-analysis finds physical capability to be inversely associated with mortality in older patients

For the full abstract, click here.

BMJ 341:c4467, 9 September 2010
© 2010 Cooper et al.
Objectively measured physical capability levels and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis. Rachel Cooper, Diana Kuh, Rebecca Hardy. Correspondence to R Cooper:

Category: A. General/Unspecified. Keywords: physical capability, grip strength, walking speed, chair rise, balance, systematic review and meta-analysis, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 12 October 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.