Could This Simple Test Predict How Long You’ll Live?

Study associates low 'sitting-rising' test scores with increased mortality rates
Image: Roen Kelly/Discover

To live a long life and maintain good health, you must move more. This isn’t breaking news.

A growing body of research indicates that prolonged periods of sitting and an inactive lifestyle are associated with a long list of serious health risks. Plus, not only is exercise important for maintaining a healthy weight, but its benefits extend into other areas of our health like our skin, digestion and cognitive abilities, just to name a few.

Basically, it’s not surprising to learn that our exercise capacity may be related to our life expectancy.

But what is surprising is that while difficult physical challenges like finishing a marathon or lifting heavy weights might indicate that you’re in exceptional physical shape, the simple ability to sit down and stand up may actually reveal more about your health and wellness. Or at least how long you’ll live.

According to a study by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo, participants who scored fewer than eight points on his specially designed sitting-rising test (SRT) were twice as likely to die within the next six years when compared with participants who scored higher. Even more shockingly, those who scored fewer than three points were more than five times as likely to die within in the next six years when compared with participants who scored more than eight points.

The test, which Araujo designed to help provide his patients with a more tangible understanding of their health, works like this:

  • Begin standing up straight. Leave ample room around you.
  • Without leaning on anything (don’t use your hands), lower yourself down into a seated position on the floor.
  • Once you’re fully seated, stand back up but try not to use your hands, knees forearms or the sides of your legs.

The test is based on a 10 point scale. If you can sit down without any assistance, you get five points. If you can stand up without any assistance, you get another five points for a perfect 10.

Each time you use a hand or a knee for help, one point is subtracted. Half of a point is subtracted any time you lose your balance.

At the end of the study Araujo and his colleagues concluded that each SRT test point increase equated to a 21 percent decrease in mortality from all causes.

It’s important to note that Araujo only tested adults whose ages ranged from 51 to 80 years old, so the test and the study’s results don’t apply to those who are younger in the same way. However that doesn’t mean that we all shouldn’t consider our fitness level—especially in terms of balance, flexibility and muscular strength—as an important indicator of overall health.

As Discover Magazine pointed out, Araujo hopes that this new information and the test will help older adults better realize the importance of daily exercise, and for the most part this test is a new way for doctors to evaluate and help motivate their patients. 

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