Ability to sit and rise from floor can predict death risk
A simple screening test of musculo-skeletal fitness, which assess a person's ability to sit and then rise unaided from the floor, has proved remarkably predictive of all-cause mortality in a study of more than 2000 middle-aged and older men and women.
The test was conducted in Brazil by Dr Claudio Gil Araujo and colleagues at the Clinimex - Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro.
The assessment was performed in 2002 adults of both sexes and with ages ranging from 51 to 80 years. The subjects were followed-up from the date of the baseline test until the date of death or 31 October 2011, a median follow-up of 6.3 years.
Over the study period 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9 percent. 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).
Commenting on the results, the investigators said that a high score in the sitting-rising test might "reflect the capacity to successfully perform a wide range of activities of daily living, such as bending over to pick up a newspaper or a pair of glasses from under a table".
However, in this study a composite score 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 fold higher death rates over the 6.3-year study period. By contrast, scores in the range of 8 indicated a particularly low risk of death during the tracking period.
"Even more relevant," reported the investigators, "is the fact that a 1-point increment in the [sitting-rising] score was related to a 21percent reduction in mortality." They added that this is the first study to demonstrate the prognostic value of the sitting-rising test.
Offering an explanation for the close correlation between the test scores and survival, Dr Araujo 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.
The study has been reported in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention.