Can You Stand Up?

I came across a deceptively simple little test of flexibility and strength online. What caught my attention was the claim that it was a good indicator of whether you will live a longer or shorter life.

According to the article from Discover magazine, a Brazilian physician, Claudio Gil Araujo, came up with this test as a way to let patients know whether they need to be doing more physically in order to maintain muscle and balance.

Having just crossed one of those end-of-decade birthdays that makes me think about mortality, I know that I am forced to consider every day simple things like bending down to pick up something up, reaching for things at a stretch and climbing stairs.

As we age, we lose flexibility, muscle power and our sense of balance. That means pulled muscles and more slips and falls.

poses_arm_balancesI tried yoga years ago. It didn’t work for me, although it seems to do wonders for some people. It made me hurt and It didn’t get better week to week. I also had problems with the names of the poses. Firefly, crane and peacock sound nice, but are meaningless to me.

I did enjoy looking at the women in their yoga pants and tank tops. I probably enjoyed that part too much.

This week I tried Araujo’s test myself.  It’s in two parts. Part 1: plop yourself down – well, “lower yourself down” – without leaning on anything.

Illustration: Roen Kelly/Discover

I could do that. More plop than lower, but I maintained my balance and passed part one. Five points.

Then the hard part of the test. Stand up, trying not to use your hands, knees, forearms or sides of your legs.

I rocked. I leaned. I changed positions. But I could not do it without using a helping hand. That’s a point off.  The two parts of the test are each scored on a 1-to-5 scale, with one point subtracted each time a hand or knee is used for support and 0.5 points subtracted for loss of balance.

Araujo had more than 2,000 patients ages 51 to 80 take SRT (Sitting Rising Test).  What he found was that people who scored fewer than eight points were twice as likely to die within the next six years. Yipes!   If you scored three or fewer points, you were more than five times as likely to die within the same period compared with those who scored more than eight points. Yipes times five!

An increase of  a point was associated with a 21 percent decrease in mortality from all causes.

Will this get me to the gym or back to the yoga classes? Unlikely. But I may start practicing the sitting down and standing up part. I have always been a good test taker.