Once you reach the age of 35, your physical fitness starts to deteriorate. And being less fit also means being more likely to die. So for people over 50, here’s one simple test that predicts – given it’s simplicity, with surprising accuracy – how likely you are to die because of deteriorating physical fitness.

The ‘sitting test’, developed by a Brazilian doctor, involves sitting down from a standing position into a cross-legged position and standing up again, using as little support from hands, knees, or other body parts. The process of sitting is granted a score out of five, and the process of standing up again is granted another score out of five, for a total of ten points. One point is deducted for each body part required to sit or stand up, and half-points are deducted for losing balance.

The higher the score, the longer you’re expected to live. To quote from the results:
“SRT scores [below] 8 (that is, requiring more than one hand or knee support to sit and rise from the floor in a stable way) were associated with 2–5-fold higher death rates over 6 years in men and women aged 51–80. SRT scores in the range 8–10 indi- cated a particularly low risk of death during the tracking period [12 years]. Even more relevant is the fact that a 1-point increment in the SRT score was related to a 21% reduction in mortality. The SRT can be considered a simple screening procedure in which a low score largely reflects the degree of impairment in the components of musculoskeletal fitness – mainly those indicating a reduction in muscle strength and/or joint flexibility.”

14 Replies to “One simple fitness test predicting how likely you are to die in the next few years”

  1. after tree scarf surgeries(one knee once and the second twice) I(age 34) am not sure that sitting or standing in that manner is possible for me without a lot of swearing and additional support from my hands- the hell I can't knee down without experiencing a mild pain in the knee. Given the upper I would advice people to approach such pseudo scientific bullshit critically.

  2. +Tim Stoev It's portrayed as a low-cost, approximate general indicator of musculoskeletal integrity – your knee surgery basically means that your musculoskeletal system is impaired in comparison to a normal musculoskeletal system, which is consistent with the author's results.

    It is not pseudoscience, but it is an observational study – meaning that it does not prove that 'passing the test' causes you to live longer, it simply observes that people who don't 'pass the test' tend to die earlier than those who do.

    The 21% is also a bit of overemphasis, as the '21% decrease in mortality rate' – translates into 'your chance of living after six years decreases by about 2 to 5% if you don't pass the test'. Note that at age 50, your chances of survival are still over 90%.

    The author also notes that musculoskeletal fitness is one factor that may contribute to mortality, but certainly isn't the only one – and provides a number of references to other studies about other factors.

    If anyone is interested, the full text of the journal article is here, complete with their dataset and demographics on the survey population (paywalled): http://cpr.sagepub.com/content/21/7/892.full.pdf+html

  3. +Mike Kerwin I've wondered about that choice too. I haven't seen any reason why the chosen activity involved sitting cross-legged, and I suspect it may be a cultural habit more than anything else.

    Sitting cross-legged on the floor during 'show-and-tell' is something that I remember all kids did when I was a little girl – and even now is quite natural for me. But here in Germany, kids sit on chairs during 'show-and-tell' and not cross-legged on the floor. My little preschool daughter wouldn't pass the test either – she has a problem with the cross-legged part too, most likely because she's never actually had to sit cross-legged.

  4. +Sophie Wrobel my knee surgery means that I do paragliding, play(ed) football on a extremely shitty terrain, and try to do matrix type stunts on the basketball field.
    As discussed with fellow patients during the hospital stay. Scarf surgery is a normal problem for people that do professional sport (football, basketball and volleyball), people that ride motorcycles, do mountain biking, skying..even firefighting. I would say that it rarely relates to some type of deviation of the musculoskeletal system. Now one may argue that actually using your body to do something more than move between chairs comes with its costs(risks of actually living) but despite the visible correlation (for example mortality rate among motorcycle drivers related to the same among model bodybuilders) I would not go that far to call this a study that has some practical science in it.
    Given my experience with scarfs, I would not recommend to anyone to do what is shown on the video. If one of your leg slips or your knees mis-align while you try to go for the higher score you may fuck up your legs seriously. I am not sure how this will affect your life span, but depending on the type of injury it will surely fuck up the cumming month or three.
    To summarize do what you like to do, and don't get obsessed with the length of your life.
    Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.

  5. I don't understand why they cross their legs at the ankle before sitting. Is that part of the test? I can get up and down easily if I squat. But crossing the legs seems like a way to purposely destabilize oneself.

    Standing up when your ankles are crossed is really hard because your weight isn't over your feet.

  6. +M Sinclair Stevens by crossing the ankles you put additional load on the muscle groups that enable you side-to-side motion(opening the legs) it also overloads your knee and ankle joints along with all scarfs and shit that enables the static stability of your knees.
    The concept is that sitting down like that you test your whole body- it is effectively harder that pull up but if not executed with related caution far more dangerous.

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