Just how long do you think (or hope!) you’ll live?

My friend and mentor Joe Cannon (and I can’t say enough good things about this guy…if you don’t already know him you really ought to check him out!) recently told me about an interesting test based on a 2012 study called "Ability to sit and rise from the floor as a predictor of all-cause mortality."

Even though it’s designed to measure your overall muscle power, balance, flexibility, coordination, and stability the test is simply called the "SRT" or "Sitting / Rising Test.”

From the way Joe first described the test, it seemed the ability to sit down on the floor and then rise up again was too basic to be some sort of important mortality indicator but he reminded me we’re talking about a skill that may actually keep you from ever having to yell "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!" so in the spirit of July fourth-iness I’m now calling the SRT your own personal “Declaration of Independence.”

The study he found looked at 2,002 people from 1997-2011 between the ages of 51-80 and then compared the scores from the SRT to standard death rates…the bottom line was that the lower someone scored on the SRT the more their risk of dying (from everything) rose…WOW!!!

Now I bet you’re just DYING (pun INtended) to try the test so here’s how you do it: sit down on the floor without using your hands then stand back up again without using your hands or knees.

Sounds easy, right?

And here’s how you score the test: you get 5 points for getting down onto the floor and 5 points for getting back up again (for a maximum of 10 points.) Each time you have to use an arm or leg to get down or back up again 1 point gets deducted, and if you’re unsteady moving in either direction 1/2 point gets deducted (so the more help you need the lower your score.)

Again, it just doesn’t get any easier than that, right?

So OF COURSE I went right home and tried the test…but guess what? Even though I typically score pretty high on standard strength, balance, flexibility, coordination, and stability tests I only got a 9…I actually had push off the floor a little using a couple fingers on my right hand. ”Ruh roh…what does that mean?” I thought to myself (and I’m sure you’re wondering now!)

Well according to the study, even if you only score between 8 and 9 you’re still doing pretty darn good…people who score ≥ 8 tend to have the lowest risk of dying.

If you score 3.5 - 7.5, you may have some soul searching to do…people who score < 8 have a 2 to 5 times greater risk of death compared to those who scored ≥ 8.

And if you score 0-3 we really should talk…you’re 6 times more likely to die from ANYTHING compared to those who scored ≥ 8.

But here’s some really good news (and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear this): exercise can EASILY improve SRT scores. Better yet, every time you increase your SRT score by 1 point your risk of death decreases by a whopping 21%...in other words even a SMALL improvement in the test can mean a LARGE improvement in your potential to live longer!!!

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what are the best movements to not only keep you from losing but even help you regain your ability to score ≥ 8 on the SRT?

It seems to me that movements based on the “7 Pillars of Human Movement” (squat, lunge, push, pull, bend, twist & gait…the same movements I talk about ALL THE TIME) are (as usual) your very best bet. And if this still sounds like Greek to you (even though I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about these movements A LOT), click here to sign up for my next Foundations of Functional Fitness workshop (OR JUST CALL ME!)

And here are a couple of YouTube videos Joe recommends watching before trying the test yourself:

The original SRT video (and don’t panic when you notice they’re not speaking English…it has subtitles): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQ2WA2T2oA

And this second video (in English…YAY!) which gives some good additional information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQIbffQj2xM

And of course I can’t just ignore my other two professional capacities when thinking about the ramifications of this test so here are two more longevity-improving suggestions I’m sure you’ve heard me say before as well: don’t forget to eat lots of whole unprocessed food (or at least more veggies) and practice T’ai Chi Chih (or at least some style of meditation/relaxation technique) because staying lean and relaxed are pretty darn important aspects of a long healthy happy life too! (That sounds like Greek to you too? Then click here for my ENTIRE roster of Fall classes.)



Written by

Jessica Lewis, CPT, CNC
HCC Lifestyle Coach