Friday, January 4, 2013

sit down and stand up to predict mortality

The Get Up?

No not the Turkish Get up......

This is an interesting one that I came across today, mentioned on a podcast.  When I got home from my walk I did a bit of searching to find out more about the study.

The idea is that some researchers have found that those who can sit down and get up using no hands are likely to live for longer.  The more that you have to use other parts of your body - elbows, knees etc to help you up then the more mortality is affected....

The study is

Methods: 2002 adults aged 51–80 years (68% men) performed a sitting-rising test (SRT) to and from the floor, which was scored from 0 to 5, with one point being subtracted from 5 for each support used (hand/knee). Final SRT score, varying from 0 to 10, was obtained by adding sitting and rising scores and stratified in four categories for analysis: 0–3; 3.5–5.5, 6–7.5, and 8–10.
Results: Median follow up was 6.3 years and there were 159 deaths (7.9%). Lower SRT scores were associated with higher mortality (p < 0.001). A continuous trend for longer survival was reflected by multivariate-adjusted (age, sex, body mass index) hazard ratios of 5.44 (95% CI 3.1–9.5), 3.44 (95% CI 2.0–5.9), and 1.84 (95% CI 1.1–3.0) (p < 0.001) from lower to higher SRT scores. Each unit increase in SRT score conferred a 21% improvement in survival.

and the pdf of the whole paper is available. 

As functional as it gets

Thinking about it, in terms of longevity and mortality this movement is about as functional as it gets.  A fall is often the beginning of the end for old people.  If they break a bone it is bad but even if they do not, if they are struggling to get back on their feet then they can be in serious danger.

Here is a basic simple test of an essential skill.  Get onto the floor and get up again.  Can you do it?  Try it now.  It is an exercise in itself.

Try it using the minimum of bodyparts, without help from hands or elbows.  Yes it is a skill....but some skills are good to develop!

The way in which the test was applied in the study was as follows:

"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."
Have a go at it now yourself.

Look beyond cardio

Offering an explanation for the close correlation between the test scores and survival, Dr 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 co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy.

Fitness is so much more than cardio / VO2 max.  Can you move well?  Can you stand and sit, lift, reach, carry, walk?  These require strength and coordination.  These skills need to be maintained as we age or else we are doomed to having people pick us up and wipe our behinds.

The video

A test or an exercise?

This was a test, but how about applying it as an exercise?  Or rather as a skill to develop and maintain as we age.   Treat this as part of your workout or at least part of your warm up.  Sit down on the floor and stand up a few times.

If you can't do this well then maybe you need to focus on some basics before you worry about the complexities of your exercise routine.


Of course the TGU is perhaps a good move to practice as a skill, to help in this, although always skills are specific - in life you will not do this much....but you will always have to get up and get down.

Here Cotter would not score well because he uses his knee  ;-)


Mark said...

Very interesting. Reminds me of Phillip Beach's Muscles and Meridians, in which he discusses several floor- or ground-based "archetypal postures," and recommends "erectorcises" to practice getting up from them.

Chris said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I'll check it out

Chris said...

Ive been practicing this move a bit - and am finding it easier to get up if I am wearing shoes....

Stephen said...

Fascinating and disturbing, i looked at this and thought, interesting but not too relevant to me, I'm pretty fit i could do that no problem........then i tried! Complete failure unassisted. I think this is more about skill than strength but it was very instructive about the need for skill as well as strength. I'll definitely be practicing this move!

Chris said...


yes it is definitely a skill. The more I practice the easier it gets. However, my knees and hips are feeling it today! I also think in general the use of a hand or shin to get up should be allowed.

Marty said...

Thanks for this fun experiment. Had to get my kids to show me the technique. Definitely not an intuitive motion (..for a 50 yr old), but became magically easy once I got the trick to it.

Diana said...

A good exercise, and agree that practice probably helps to develop skill and strength. As a 65y/o, I tried a different tactic to stand without assistance by sitting on 2 inches of books (after trial and error to figure the optimal). Hopefully will be able to decrease the inches as I get stronger! Thanks for the article.

Questionnaire said...

I don't understand how you are supposed to be able to sit up without using a KNEE for support. I mean, I can do it without hands, but a knee has to touch the floor when getting up, otherwise it's just not physically possible. And I mean the laws of physics - the center of gravity, etc.

I mean, are you supposed to get up without pushing with the knee against the floor even when you don't use your hands, or why do the test explanations always say "without using a hand or knee for support"?

If it means you can't use a hand against the knee, then it's a bit inconsistent, because a hand can be also used against the floor for support, etc., but obviously a hand can't be used against another hand for support - so if that's what it means, it should just mention the hand, and not the knee.

On the other hand, if there IS a trick of how to get up without using a knee against the floor, I'd like to know about it.

The only way I can figure is doing a sort of 'somersault', but even that might not always work if you have lots of mass.

I think it's also quite strict to not be able to use a knee - they even use that method in Tae Kwon Do (and those people should be in really good physical shape)!

Also, if the word 'knee' only means you shouldn't use your hand against a knee, then the 'floor' would have to be listed as well the same exact way, otherwise it's inconsistent and confusing, and maybe even misleading.

How about a side of the knee, is that considered part of the overall 'knee' in this test? I mean, if you get up sideways?

Chris said...

The technique is in the video in the post. Basically a cross legged squat