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Can Sitting Save your Life?

“It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but 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.”

– Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo

A number of years ago Dr. Araujo, a Brazilian doctor made a starling observation in his elderly patients, those who displayed good aerobic fitness but yet struggled with simple tasks like tying their shoes and getting up off the floor died much sooner than expected.

So in the 1990’s, Dr. Araujo decided to put to his chilling reflection to the test. What followed was a 5-year +2000 person clinical study on older people between the ages of 51-80 years old. The end result was the creation of a simple diagnostic tool, called the Sit-Rise Test (SRT for short) that doctors could use to assess non-aerobic fitness and accurately predict an elderly patient’s risk of early death by how well they could navigate to and from the floor.

How does the SRT work? Well, starting from a standing position, cross your legs and descend to a cross-legged sitting position on the floor. If you can do that without any issue you get 5 full points but any time you lose your balance you get a .5 deduction while any limb you use to steady yourself results in the loss of 1 point. For instance, say you were going down to the floor but temporarily lost your balance and had to put your hand on your knee before getting into a seated position. You would have lost 1.5 points. Now for the next part of the test, moving from that seated position to a standing one without interruption is a total of another 5 points. But like the descent, every loss of balance is a .5 deduction while every limb you use to help you results in a 1 point deduction along the way. Having gone to and from the floor completes the assessment and your two scores are added together. Results between 10-8 points are excellent, 7.5-6 are good, 5.5-3.5 are fair and 3-0 are extremely poor. More importantly, for each point you lose, Dr. Araujo concludes that it increases your chance of dying in the next 6.3 years by 21%. The SRT is a simple test with serious consequences.

What’s our take on the test? Well for one the assessment isn’t for everyone. It’s not a great diagnostic tool for those who are already frail or suffer from any kind of knee issue (though you could lump those up as risk factors in their own right) nor is the test neuro-developmental. If you’ve attended Move by Design you already know that we love ‘primal patterning’ and that using the neuro-developmental patterns we instinctively do from birth (rolling over, rocking, crawling, tumbling) can help super charge our nervous system as we age. Simply put, crossing your legs and sitting down is not a ‘natural human movement’ and we’d much rather see a test where older people use a ‘Turkish Get-Up‘ movement as a way to demonstrate and train their strength, power and mobility. That’s said, the one thing we really liked about the research behind the SRT test — that longevity is wired through mobility and moving by design is more than just a philosophy, it’s something you need to doing everyday of your life.


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