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While many factors play a role in determining lifespan, emerging research suggests that certain lifestyle habits can profoundly influence our longevity. Among these factors is physical activity, with a combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercises topping many experts’ list of go-to movement types.

According to Caleb Herman, Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Des Moines, Iowa, you can even test your potential for longevity with three simple fitness tests.

“Longevity — or the ability to live long and feel well — is a top concern and goal for many of my clients,” he says. “People have tried to find ways to live longer forever, and a few studies have shown that the longer you have the ability to keep doing these three tests, the longer you can live. These are very simple tests that can easily done at home or at a health club or gym.”

1. Sit-to-Stand Test

Moving from a sitting position to a standing one is something most of us do numerous times every single day — but according to Herman, it’s something we should aim to do without assistance from other limbs for as long as we can.

“As we get older or become less functionally fit, a lot of us start to use our hands to assist when getting up,” he says. “But the ability to get up without using our hands is tied to our range of motion, flexibility, and agility. These are all key factors that diminish with age, so we want to keep working on them.”

How to Test

  • Sit on a chair, box, or bench.
  • Hold your hands out in front of you so you’re not tempted to use them to help you stand.
  • Simply stand up without using your hands.

How to Improve

If you’re struggling to complete this test, Herman encourages you to keep practicing every day.

“Work up to the movement,” he advises. “Start with using your hands to stand up for three sets of 10 — 30 reps total — per day. Slowly keep trying to remove the use of your hands. When you can, try two sets with hands, one set without. Over time, you’ll eventually be able to stand up with no hands all 30 times.”

(More support: “6 Exercises to Help You Get Down on the Floor — and Up Off the Floor — With Ease”)

2. One-Leg Balance Test

The ability to balance can be another challenge of aging — as well as a safety concern. “Your brain and your muscles are all connected, and as we age, we need to continue working on our mind-body connection for balance,” says Herman. “It’s a use-it-or-lose-it situation. If you don’t keep up your balance skills as you age, you can lose those abilities.”

How to Test

  • Stand with both feet on the floor.
  • Lift one foot and balance on one leg for 10 seconds.
  • Switch sides and balance on the other leg for another 10 seconds.
  • To progress, try closing your eyes and repeating the test.

How to Improve

Again, Herman encourages anyone struggling with this movement to keep working on it daily. “The more you practice anything, the easier it gets,” he says. “We all start somewhere. If you have trouble balancing initially, try holding onto a chair or wall for stability while you do this test. Gradually, try to rely less on your stabilizer and stand on your own.”

3. Grip Strength Test

Grip strength is a testament to a person’s overall strength, according to Herman. Poor or less than ideal grip strength means you likely need to work on building strength throughout your body.

Like balance, strength and muscle mass also diminishes as we age. “The more we work on our overall strength and building muscle through resistance training, the longer we can enjoy doing the activities we love.”

(Learn more: “9 Strength-Training Benefits For Health, Fitness, and Anti-Aging”)

How to Test

The easiest way to test grip strength is through a grip-strength tester, such as a handheld dynamometer. Simply grip and squeeze the handle and the tool will show you a measurement in pounds.

“Generally, for a 35-to-40-year-old, 120 pounds is a good target,” says Herman. “For those aged 40 to 55, 50 to 60 pounds is great, and for ages 55 and up, aim for 40 to 50 pounds.”

If you don’t have access to a dynamometer, you can also test your grip strength by squeezing a stress ball or small pillow with your hand. “Set a timer for one minute and see how many times you can squeeze and release the stress ball,” says Herman. “Anything over 30 squeezes in that timeframe is ideal for grip strength.”

How to Improve

If you’re struggling with grip strength, Herman recommends focusing on overall strength training. “Work some form of strength-training exercises into your routine two to three days per week, for at least 30 minutes per session,” he says. “This could involve your bodyweight or free weights or machines. You want to aim to vary your exercises so you’re working your full body throughout the week.”

If you need support with your strength regimen, Herman advises working with a trainer. “A Dynamic Personal Trainer can help you with a plan for building strength from your individual starting point. Accountability from a professional is one of the fastest ways to get to where you want to be.” (Learn more: “6 Tips to Build Grip Strength”)

“A longer life means more time with family, more time with kids and grandkids, and more time to do the things we love,” Herman adds. “As we get older, many of us adopt the mindset of, ‘I’m old’ or ‘My body isn’t capable,’ and we stop prioritizing exercise and strength training — both of which help combat the effects of aging. In this life, we are designed to keep moving and playing — therefore, we never ‘lose it’! Practicing these tests and mixing in strength and cardio training can help us feel and function a lot younger than we actually are.”

Keep the conversation going.

Leave a comment, ask a question, or see what others are talking about in the Life Time Health Facebook group.

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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