What can a simple exercise test say about your health? (Picture: Getty)
A word of advice. If you fail this ‘sit and rise’ test, do not panic.
Yes, results suggest that the lower you score, the more likely you are to die in the next six years.
But do not be alarmed – there is more to those figures than meet the eye.
The test requires no equipment, just a clear space on the floor.
The aim is to be able to sit down into a cross-legged position and get back up again, barefoot, without using your hands or arms to help. Top scorers use only their legs and core.
Everyone starts with ten points, and loses a point for using any of the below for help either on the way down or the way back up:
A hand on the knee or thigh
Side of the leg
The original study put more than 2,000 adults through the test, and found that of the 159 people who had died within the study period of 6.3 years, the majority had scored badly. Those with a score of between 0 and 3 were up to six times more likely to die.
A score below eight suggested a two to five times higher risk of death within the next six years.
Only two subjects who scored a perfect 10 died during the study period.
Speaking at the time, the research team said the 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’.
If that doesn’t sound too reflective of your daily life, it’s because of one big caveat – the test is primarily aimed at those between 50 and 80.
The test was specifically designed for older people (Picture: Getty/Westend61)
Falls are a major cause of injury and death in older people, and a big concern for individuals, so it makes sense that staying strong and maintaining muscle mass will help prevent such accidents.
‘This is an interesting study which combines pragmatism with evidence,’ says Warwick Medical School’s Dr Stephen Lawrence. ‘It usefully engages the well-established principle of testing for sarcopenia (age-related muscle wasting) using a simple principle that provides a “quick and dirty” test that can be employed to assess the degree of roughly assess the degree of fitness of middle-aged adults.
‘A particular attribute of this test is that it assesses lower muscle power and strength which predicts the likelihood of falls in older adults.
‘It is important to acknowledge the limitations of this test, such as osteoarthritis, diseases causing primary muscle weakness and mobility problems which are confounders to interpreting the test results.
‘A “positive” result may also give a sense of false reassurance in patients presenting with other independent risk factors for a shortened lifespan death such as smoking, excess alcohol consumption, sub optimally controlled diabetes or hypertension.’
How did the Metro team fare?
Eleven staff in their twenties, thirties and forties gave the test a whirl, some with more than success than others.
However, six scored a perfect 10 and three scored nine. The remaining two scored eight and six.
The study also found that each one-point increment in score reduced mortality by 21%.
But if you’re under 50, should you discount the results?
The test is still a good measure of balance, core and leg strength, agility and flexibility.
‘Despite the fact that this study is focused on people aged over the over 50 years evidence points to its relevance to those under the age of 50,’ adds Dr Lawrence. ‘There are studies indicating that from as early as the age of 35, there is loss of muscle mass marked by fewer and smaller type II muscle fibres. Regular resistance training helps to reduce this rate of change.
Building strength is good for later life (Picture: Getty)
‘At the very least the “sit and rise” test is offers an easily performed assessment offering a conversation-starter between the healthcare professional and patient about modifiable disease risk factors during middle-age.’
So while a low score doesn’t equate to the same risk of death as in older people, it’s no secret that keeping fit and healthy is always a good thing.
One other point to note. While the study found a close relationship between test score and the risk of death, it did not share how the participants died – and it should not be assumed that all were related to falls.
In addition, those with lower scores tended to be older.
‘Frailty, strength, muscle mass, physical performance – those things are all correlated to mortality, but I would caution everybody that correlation doesn’t mean causation,’ warned University of Miami associate professor Dr Greg Hartley, speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
So do the test, see how you fare, and work to boost your score.
But most importantly, do not panic.
But don’t panic if you fail.