Physical capability refers to an individual’s capacity to undertake the physical tasks of daily living. Maintaining physical capability and musculoskeletal function as we grow older are important aspects of healthy ageing, enabling people to live independently for longer and with a higher quality of life.
Low levels or loss of capability and accelerated ageing of the musculoskeletal system pose threats to independent living, impact negatively on quality of life and are linked to risk of disease and death.
Physical capability can be assessed by tests of muscle strength and physical performance and self reports of everyday function. In NSHD, grip strength, standing balance and chair rises, were measured at 14 years, and these measures plus a measure of gait speed have been repeated in the recent clinic data collection. These tests differentially reflect muscle strength, power and speed, mental concentration and subtle motor control, and may provide summary indicators of biological ageing at the individual level. The recent clinic data collection also provides new measures of bone health and body composition.