Stand up with no hands to live longer: Why you could be heading for an early grave if you can't get off the floor without using your hands
Simple test asked 50 to 80-year-olds to sit on the floor and stand up with as little support as possibleAdults who needed to use a number of aids such as their hands and knees were six times more likely to die than those who didn't
01:26 GMT, 14 December 2012
If getting up from a game of Scrabble on the floor this Christmas requires both hands, a lot of sighing and a helpful tug from a grandchild, beware.
For the gloomy message from scientists is that you may not live as long as your flexible counterparts.
Those who can sit down and get up using only one hand – or no hands at all – are likely to live for longer, a study found.
Sitting down – but can you get up again without help Scientists say this is a strong predictor of health
But those needing extra assistance, such as getting up on their knees or using two hands, are up to six times more likely to die prematurely.
The study found a simple two-minute test could predict the level of overall fitness in middle age that earmarks those likely to enjoy a longer life.
Researchers said the ease with which someone could stand up from a sitting position on the floor – and vice versa – was linked to a reduced risk of dying early.
Dr Claudio Gil Arajo, who carried out the study with colleagues at the Clinimex-Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro, said it was ‘remarkably predictive’ of physical strength, flexibility and co-ordination at a range of ages.
He said: ‘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 musculo-skeletal fitness but their survival prognosis is probably better than that of those unable to do so.’
Those who needed a lot of assistance in the test had a far higher risk of mortality
The study involved more than 2,000 men and women, aged 51 to 80, who were asked to sit and then rise unaided from the floor.
After the sitting-rising test, they were followed until the date of their death or October 31, 2011 – for 6.3 years, on average. Before starting the test, they were told: ‘Without worrying about the speed of movement, try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support that you believe is needed.’
Each of the two basic movements was assessed and scored out of five, making a composite score of ten, with one point subtracted from five for each support used such as a hand or knee.
Over the study period 159 participants died, a death rate of about 8 per cent, according to a report in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention.
The majority of these deaths occurred in participants with low test scores – indeed, only two of the deaths were in subjects who gained a composite score of ten.
Survival was strongly linked to the number of points scored.
The researchers took account of age, gender and body mass index and found the sitting-rising test score was a significant independent predictor of the likelihood of dying from any cause.
Those who scored three points or fewer had a five to six times higher risk of death than those scoring more than eight points.
A score below eight was linked with two to fivefold higher death rates over the 6.3 year study period.
Dr Arajo said: ‘Our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy.’