If you want to live a long time, you’ve got to stay in shape. A simple test of ability to get up off the floor is highly related to risk of death, and you’ll be able to perform this task better if your muscular strength is better. Fitness is a strong predictor of mortality; the association is an inverse one of course: the fitter you are, the less likely to die.
“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.”
A simple screening test of musculo-skeletal fitness has proved remarkably predictive of all-cause mortality in a study of more than 2000 middle-aged and older men and women. […]
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 were assessed and scored out of 5, with one point being subtracted from 5 for each support used (hand or knee, for example). Subjects were thus assessed by a composite score of 0 to 10, which, for the sake of the analysis, was ranked as four categories (C1, 0–3; C2, 3.5–5.5; C3, 6–7.5; and C4, 8–10).
Over the study period 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9%. The majority of these deaths occurred in people with low test scores – indeed, only two of the deaths were in subjects who gained a composite score of 10. Analysis found that survival in each of the four categories differed with high statistical significance. These differences persisted when results were controlled for age, gender and body mass index, suggesting that the sitting-rising test score is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality; indeed, subjects in the lower score range (C1) had a 5-6 times higher risk of death than those in the reference group (C4).
The study suggests that those who deliberately stay in shape will lower their mortality rate. Furthermore, the exercise that will help the most in carrying out the sitting/standing maneuver is weightlifting, which will both keep muscles strong as well as develop and maintain motor neurons.
Obviously, people who are ill already will have greater difficulty in sitting and rising, but also obviously, people who stay in shape will find it easier.