Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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You might have already heard of the classic chair test – in which the person is asked to stand up from a seated position in a chair. This allows doctors to assess an older person’s lower body fitness and leg strength. It can also reveal how flexible someone is and what their coordination is like.
But a test created by researchers from Brazil – and published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2012 – is said to be predictive of how long you might live.
To carry out the test:
Sit on the floor from a standing position without using your hands, arms, or knees to slow your descent.
Then stand back up without using your hands, arms, or knees to help if possible.
If you’re finding it difficult, crossing your legs on the way down and the way up can help, and loosely holding your arms out to your sides aids balance.
As part of the Brazilian study, 2,002 adults aged between 51 and 80 were followed for an average of six years.
It found those who had to use both hands and knees to get up and down -regardless of age – were almost seven times more likely to die within six years than those who could spring up and down without support.
This was because their musculoskeletal fitness, as measured by the test, was “lacking”.
During the test each of the two basic movements of all participants were assessed and scored out of five, with one point being subtracted from five for each support used (hand or knee, for example).
Subjects were therefore assessed by a total score of zero to 10.
The report says: “Over the study period 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9 percent.
“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.”
The team explained that a high score in the sitting-rising 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”.
Speaking in the journal, one of the researchers – Dr Claudio Gil Araújo – said: “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 favourable influence on life expectancy.
“When compared to other approaches to functional testing, the sitting-rising test does not require specific equipment and is safe, easy to apply in a short time period (less than two minutes), and reliably scored.
“In our clinical practice, the test has been shown over the past ten years to be useful and practical for application to a large spectrum of populations, ranging from paediatric to geriatric.”
Dr Araújo added: “If a middle-aged or older man or woman can sit and rise from the floor using just one hand – or even better without the help of a hand – they are not only in the higher quartile of musculoskeletal fitness but their survival prognosis is probably better than that of those unable to do so.”
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