Sitting-Rising: A Test of Mortality Risk

Good physical function improves the quality of life, and it may also predict quantity of life. The Sitting-Rising test is an easy way predict premature mortality risk and appraise physical function.

The test is simple: sit down to the floor and rise up with as little help as possible. There are 5 possible points for lowering and 5 for getting up with points subtracted for each time help is needed. Using a hand, forearm, knee or the side of a leg for support subtracts 1 point. Loss of balance subtracts 0.5 points. A perfect score of 10 is given when no help is required.

A Brazilian research team tested middle age and older adults with the Sitting-Rising test and then followed them for an average of about 6 years. Their findings showed that scoring very low (0-3 points) was associated with both a 3- year shorter life expectancy and 5-6 times higher risk of all-cause mortality compared to scoring very high (8-10 points). These results are specific to this study of adults 51-80 years old, but the researchers use the test in their clinical practice with all age groups to assess overall physical function.

This link between sitting-rising and increased mortality risk is compelling. One researcher told a journalist he hopes the information gets more people “walking through the doors of a gym rather than rolling into an emergency room.” If you have trouble with this test and want to improve your health and function, focus on these things:

  • Increasing mobility with foam rolling and stretching
  • Improving stability and balance with core stability and single leg exercises
  • Building general strength through consistent weight training
  • Practice getting down to the floor and back up again – the test can be an exercise itself

As always, if you have specific questions or problems, talk to one of our trainers.

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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