By Annie Hauser
If you're able to sit and rise from the floor with just one hand -- or better yet, no hands -- you likely have a lower risk of death from any cause, new research published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention finds.
Researchers in Rio de Janeiro tested adults ranging from age 51 to 80, asking them to "try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support that you believe is needed." The subjects were tracked from the date of the baseline test in 2002 until their death or October 2011. At the end of the study period, participants who needed additional support to get up from the floor were overwhelmingly more likely to die, across age, gender, or body mass index.
Researchers say this simple fitness 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." They note that is the first study to demonstrate the value of the sitting-rising test.
The sitting-rising test also demonstrates the importance of muscle strength, flexibility, and power, researchers write in the study, as opposed to just cardiovascular fitness.
This finding is also a ringing endorsement for functional fitness, a workout trend that uses exercises designed to parrot everyday movement -- and make everyday tasks easier. With functional fitness, you work your upper and lower body at the same time, often adding core-strengthening moves, rather than focusing on a particular set of muscles. (Think a wide-legged squat with an overhead weight lift, meant to mimic the action of lifting heavy things, like bags of groceries or your kids.)
Another recent study also correlated strength to a longer life. After a study of more than 1 million men, Swedish researchers found that a lack of muscle strength in teen years can be as dangerous to longevity as well-known early-death risk factors like obesity or high blood pressure. Plus, the strongest teens had a 20- to 30-percent lower risk of death before age 55 from suicide and 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia or other mental health disorders.
"Rising From the Floor Unassisted Linked to a Longer Life" originally appeared on Everyday Health.