Send to

Choose Destination
BMJ. 2010 Sep 9;341:c4467. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c4467.

Objectively measured physical capability levels and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing and Division of Population Health, University College London, London WC1B 5JU.



To do a quantitative systematic review, including published and unpublished data, examining the associations between individual objective measures of physical capability (grip strength, walking speed, chair rising, and standing balance times) and mortality in community dwelling populations.


Systematic review and meta-analysis.


Relevant studies published by May 2009 identified through literature searches using Embase (from 1980) and Medline (from 1950) and manual searching of reference lists; unpublished results were obtained from study investigators.


Eligible observational studies were those done in community dwelling people of any age that examined the association of at least one of the specified measures of physical capability (grip strength, walking speed, chair rises, or standing balance) with mortality.


Effect estimates obtained were pooled by using random effects meta-analysis models with heterogeneity between studies investigated.


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 (95% confidence interval 1.45 to 1.93) after adjustment for age, sex, and body size (I(2)=84.0%, 95% confidence interval 74% to 90%; P from Q statistic <0.001). The summary hazard ratio for mortality comparing the slowest with the fastest quarter of walking speed (five studies, 14 692 participants) was 2.87 (2.22 to 3.72) (I(2)=25.2%, 0% to 70%; P=0.25) 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).


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center