Can you do 40 pushups? Walk 4 flights of stairs without stopping?
How about the sit-rise test?
Try it: move from standing to sitting on the floor cross-legged without using your hands or knees. Then stand back up the same way. Believe it or not, a study published in 2012 found that success with the sit-rise test equaled longer life. The study awarded 5 pts for sitting without using hands or knees, 5 points for standing back up, and deducted one point each time participants used hands or knees to help. Those scoring 8 or higher ultimately lived longer.
The sit-rise test is an indication of your degree of strength and balance, both of which are important indicators of your overall health and likelihood of experiencing injuries or falls.
Other studies used to measure health and longevity count push-ups, stair climbing, walking speed, and even hand strength. Whatever the method, the results indicate that the people who could do more, walk faster, and who had more strength, lived longer.
In other words, key factors in longer life expectancy include strength, balance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and endurance. That’s not surprising; the American Heart Association recommends adults get regular exercise that focuses on improving strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance.
Tests like these can give you a good idea how much muscle mass you may have lost to aging or how much your balance has decreased. Loss of balance and muscle mass are both common side effects of growing older and both can severely affect your quality of life. One in four adults over age 65 will fall this year. Many others will change their lifestyle in fear of falling, missing out on activities and milestones that younger, healthier people take for granted.
But you don’t have to accept your result. The most important thing the sit-rise test and other similar tests can tell you is where to start making a difference in your health. If you’re not happy with your results of a sit-rise or similar test, use your results as a benchmark. Chances are good that you can do something every day to improve your physical health.
We know that physical fitness contributes to a longer life, and a better quality of life, but making lifestyle changes can be overwhelming. Don’t lose hope if you can’t do the sit-rise test, walk up four flights of stairs, or do 40 pushups! There are a lot of personal factors that influence your abilities, and every person is different. Start where you are and move forward from there. You don’t have to measure your strength in pushups or flights of stairs if you’re in a place where either option seems impossible. Starting out with a five-minute walk or a few daily stretches could be life changing for you. Sometimes, taking the first step is the hardest part.