I have just run across this amazing test that is utterly simple to take yet profound in its revelations. How much difficulty middle-aged and older adults have sitting down and rising up off the floor actually seems to give indications of the chances of long-term survival.
The more support a person needs to get down to the floor and up from it, the more likely that person has a lower chance of living a long life, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.
Ability to sit and rise from the floor is closely correlated with all-cause mortality risk
Interested in how you would do on the test? Here is a You Tube demonstration:
Each of the two basic movements was assessed and scored out of 5, with one point being subtracted from 5 for each support used (hand or knee, for example). Subjects were thus assessed by a composite score of 0 to 10.
The study, performed in Brazil by Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo and colleagues, included more than 2000 middle-aged and older men and women.
Over the study period 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9%. The majority of these deaths occurred in people with low test scores – indeed, only two of the deaths were in subjects who gained a composite score of 10. Analysis found that survival in each of the four categories differed with high statistical significance. These differences persisted when results were controlled for age, gender and body mass index (BMI), suggesting that the sitting-rising test score is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality; indeed, subjects in the lower score range had a 5-6 times higher risk of death than those in the reference group.
Commenting on the results, the investigators said that a high score in the sitting-rising test might “reflect the capacity to successfully perform a wide range of activities of daily living, such as bending over to pick up a newspaper or a pair of glasses from under a table.”
Offering an explanation for the close correlation between the test scores and survival, Dr Araújo said: “It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favorable influence on life expectancy.
“When compared to other approaches to functional testing,” added Dr Araújo, “the sitting-rising test does not require specific equipment and is safe, easy to apply in a short time period (less than 2 minutes), and reliably scored. In our clinical practice, the test has been shown over the past ten years to be useful and practical for application to a large spectrum of populations, ranging from pediatric to geriatric.”
Dr. Araújo emphasized the great potential of the sitting-rising test among primary care physicians looking for a quick appraisal of musculo-skeletal fitness in clinical or industrial settings. “If a middle-aged or older man or woman can sit and rise from the floor using just one hand – or even better without the help of a hand – they are not only in the higher quartile of musculo-skeletal fitness but their survival prognosis is probably better than that of those unable to do so.”