Study: Ability to Sit & Rise from Floor Is Closely Tied to Mortality Risk

The ability of middle-aged men and women to sit down on the floor and then rise to their feet is closely correlated to the subjects' overall risk of death from any cause, says the European Society of Cardiology.

This test of musculoskeletal fitness was conducted on more than 2,000 men and women aged 51 to 80. The subjects were first tested in 2002, then were tracked until their deaths or until the study ended in Oct. 2011. Testing was led by Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo and took place at the Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Subjects performed the tests while wearing non-restrictive clothing and while barefoot on a flat floor. Click HERE to see the video.

They were asked to first sit down from a standing position, then rise to their feet again while using the least amount of support they felt was needed to remain safe and stable.

Researchers assessing the subjects began with a total of five points for the first part of the test - in which the subject moved from a standing position to sitting on the floor - and another five points for moving from the seated position to standing. The total possible score was 10 points.

Assessors deducted one point for each type of support the subject needed, such as placing a hand on the floor to assist while moving from sitting to standing. Each subject was given a total score ranging from 0 to 10 points.

Subjects were sorted into one of four categories based on their scores, with the "C1" category being for scores of 0-3 points; C2 being 3.5-5.5 points; C3 being 6-7.5 points; and C4 being 8-10 points.

During the follow-up period, 159 subjects died. When researchers looked up those subjects' test scores, they said, "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," the European Society of Cardiology said in a news announcement. "These differences persisted when results were controlled for age, gender and body mass index, suggesting that the sitting-rising test score is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality. Indeed, subjects in the lower-score range, C1, had five to six times higher risk of death than those in the reference group, C4."

Researchers said the ability to sit and stand with little or no support 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 the table."

Just a one-point difference in the sitting-rising score, researchers said, was related to a 21-percent reduction in mortality.

Said Araujo, "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 coordination are not only good for performing daily activities, but have a favorable influence on life expectancy."

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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