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This Simple Physical Test Can Predict the Likelihood of Mortality for Those Aged Between 51 and 80

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We are always curious about the length of our lives and the signs that might indicate our health trajectory. Yet, a definitive formula to precisely predict our lifespan remains elusive. But, as recently featured on the “Today” show, a doctor introduced a straightforward test that could indicate the probability of imminent mortality for individuals aged between 51 and 80.

Dr Natalie Azar, an NBC News medical contributor, showcased the easy-to-follow “sit to stand test” (also known as the sit-rising test or SRT) on the Today show. This assessment aims to gauge the longevity of individuals aged between 51 and 80.

The procedure is simple. From a standing position, one must sit cross-legged on the floor and then return to standing. This should be accomplished using only the legs and core muscles, without the aid of any other body part. The test evaluates numerous longevity factors: heart health, balance, agility, strength in the core and legs, and flexibility.

Participants start with a full score of 10. Points are deducted for the following actions:

  • Using a hand for support: –1 point
  • Using a knee for support: –1 point
  • Using a forearm for support: –1 point
  • Placing a hand on the knee or thigh: –1 point
  • Using the side of the leg for support: –1 point

A 2012 study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology discovered a connection between the SRT score and lifespan. Of the 2002 participants, 68% were men. After taking the SRT test, they were closely monitored. The study’s conclusion was clear: Musculoskeletal fitness, gauged by the SRT, is a pivotal predictor of mortality for individuals aged 51–80.

Those scoring between 0 and 3 had a mortality risk up to six times higher than participants scoring between 8 and 10. Astonishingly, 40% of individuals in the 0-3 bracket passed away within 11 years of the study’s inception.

Dr Azar summarised the findings succinctly: “A lower score indicates a sevenfold higher likelihood of death within the subsequent six years.” She further advised aiming for scores of eight or above. “Though we frequently discuss cardiovascular health and aerobic fitness as we age, it’s equally crucial to remember the importance of balance, flexibility, and agility,” she emphasised.

But it’s essential to remember that the lowest scorers in the test were the oldest participants, inherently increasing their death risk.

Dr. Greg Hartley, a board-certified geriatric clinical specialist and an associate professor at the University of Miami, advised interpreting the study’s results judiciously: “While frailty, strength, muscle mass, and physical performance are indeed correlated with mortality, we must remember that correlation does not equate to causation.” 

Furthermore, the test doesn’t account for those with injuries or disabilities, rendering the test impractical. Yet one of the study’s authors, Dr Claudio Gil Araujo, emphasised the significance of maintaining our mobility. “The more active we remain, the better equipped we are to manage stressors and are likely to overcome future adversities,” he explained.

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