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How Would You Rate Your Handshake?

Is yours pathetic? You know the type I’m referring to–that near-death handshake you’d expect from the dying Mimi at the end of La Boheme. Or is it the reverse? Have you reached out with your firm grip only to receive a pathetic little dead fish of a handshake in return?

I know. You’re thinking: What could he possibly be talking about?

Hold on. Turns out that as an indicator of your health and longevity, the strength of your handshake is important. Also, in fact, how quickly you rise from a chair, how briskly you walk, and even how well you can balance on one leg.

Researchers in Britain performed an overview of previous studies on physical prowess to see how these everyday measurements related to good health and longevity. Ultimately, they were able to gather data on more than 50,000 people, grading just those four factors: grip strength, rising from a chair, walking speed, and balancing.

Although most of these studies were undeniably culled from data on adults over 60, the researchers realized that unless people have specific hindering conditions like arthritis, they’re able to perform physical simple tasks pretty much the same way for most of their lives.

And the results of all this? Overall, if you’re adept at standing on one leg, can walk and chew gum at the same time, make people wince with your handshake, win three-legged races at picnics, always hear “What’s your hurry?” from those trying to keep up with you, and are known for bouncing out of your chair, you’re very likely going to live longer than those around you who fail to keep up.

And “live longer” means just that. Better aging, fewer chronic illnesses, and actually slowing down that whole messy process called decrepitude.

When you think about it, there’s a logic to it, isn’t there? If you bound up the stairs instead of pulling yourself up by the railing, spring from your car instead of dragging yourself out by the doorframe, and then apply similar energies to the hundred other tasks you unconsciously perform every day of your life, your muscles will stay better toned, your heart will be stronger, your mind clearer, and you’ll be around longer to enjoy it all.

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