The objective of the present study is to analyze gender differences and social class gradients in physical functions; and to study whether the social class gradients in physical functions in midlife differed between men and women.
This study used traditionally used physical performance tests and we added several tests of vigorous physical functioning (trunk muscle strength and power and sagittal flexibility). We measured reaction time, one-legged balance, sagittal flexibility, jump height, chair rise ability, trunk muscle- and handgrip strength in 5,412 participants aged 50 to 60 years (68.5% men).
We found gender differences and social class gradients for all physical performance tests. We did not find an interaction between social class and gender, indicating that the social gradient in physical functions did not differ between men and women.
Including measures of vigorous physical functioning may add to the existing knowledge on development of functional limitation and poorer functional health later in life.