A recent study indicated that the manner in which an older adult is able to get up off the floor can indicate their chances of length of life and survival odds as demonstrated in a sit-and-stand test. Published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology recently, this 14-year test was conducted with adults ages 51 through 80 to compare how they could sit on the floor and then get back up. Each additional support needed (hands, knee, et cetera) added a predicted 21 percent lower chance of survival over a six-year trial follow-up.
The study proved that muscle strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance were needed to accomplish daily activities such as bending over to pick up items, getting out of a chair, reaching for items overhead, et cetera, and were also identified as risks for falls. The study used participants who had average abilities with adjustments for age, sex, and body mass index, and excluded athletes and those who had prior musculoskeletal issues.
A nonslip floor surface was used for the study, and each participant was instructed to sit on the floor and get back up using the least support they felt was necessary. It was not a timed test—they were allowed to get back up at their own speed. The total available score on the test was 10 points—5 for sitting and 5 for rising without supports. If they used a hand, knee, forearm, side of leg, or hand on knee, 1 point was taken away for each support. If the individual showed an overall unsteady performance, 0.5 point was subtracted from the score.
Conclusion of Study: The highest scoring group (those with 8 to 10 points) compared to those with the lowest scoring group (0 to 3 points) showed hazard ratios that translated to a 3-year shorter life expectancy difference. Because muscle strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility affect us as we age, it is important to try to preserve these functions to prevent falls which can be devastating and even life-threatening as we get older.
Test Yourself: Perform this version of the study to see how able you are in comparison to the study participants.
Sit on the floor cross-legged. Now rise back up, trying not to use hands, knees, or any other support. You may need your arms for balance, but you should not need them to help you get up.
If you find yourself having difficulty with this test or in actual life situations having trouble standing from a chair, this may be an “ah-ha moment” for you to begin or accelerate your exercise program. Start with 10 to 15 minutes a day with walking and gradually increase up to 30 minutes. Add resistance training with weights or kettlebells once you have accomplished the walking.
More Advanced Floor Training: Here is an advanced version of the sit-stand exercise for those of you who enjoy a challenge. Start on the floor on your belly, then on your right side, on your left side, in a pushup plank, and on your back. Then stand up from each of these positions.
- First do each using no hands.
- Then do each position with your right hand on your right knee.
- Then do each position with your left hand on your left knee.
- Then switch hands (right hand to left knee, left hand to right knee).
When you have accomplished all these moves, you will be ready to face aging straight-on and ready to hit the showers!