Do you eat right, exercise often, and don’t smoke or drink excessively? Many factors are considered when determining how long you will live – your habits, your family health history and genetic makeup, for example. The life expectancy for Americans is on the rise, and I’m convinced that healthy lifestyle choices can help you live right up to 100 or even older!
Buy what if I told you there was a test that you didn’t need to go see your doctor to perform that could reveal how long you will live? Skeptical?
New research published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has taken an old concept and revamped it to make it a more definitive means in estimating the length of your life.
Longevity revealed in the ability of sitting
You may have heard of the test where you sit on a chair without using your hands, and then rise from the seat also without using your hands. The main purpose of this test was so that doctors could gage a senior’s leg and lower body fitness level, as well as their ability to function independently.
This relatively simple task involves so many mechanics, such as flexibility, muscle power, balance and motor coordination.
Well, the new research has taken this test and amped it up to help determine life longevity. Both men and women volunteers between the ages of 51 and 81 were asked to sit on the floor without the use of their hands, and to also stand up from the floor, similarly not using their hands.
You’re right – easier said than done!
The participants were monitored for six years. Those who could not perform the task without using their hands in some way to get up or down were more likely to die within the six years they were being followed. Those who could easily sit on the floor and prop themselves back up lived well beyond the study’s completion.
The researchers concluded that those who could not complete the test lacked musculoskeletal fitness, which they suggest is quite important. Aerobic fitness is related to survival, but the study also shows that “maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength and coordination also has a favorable influence on life expectancy,” says study author Claudio Gil Soares de Araujo, a professor at Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro.
Building yourself up to live longer
If you’ve attempted the test and need the assistance of your hands or surrounding objects, don’t fret! You can still take steps to improve your life. By practicing and working on your flexibility, balance, and strength you will be on your way to many more good years.
First and foremost, when choosing a plan, make sure you have clearance from your doctor.
There are easy steps to improve your flexibility and balancing. Taking some time out of your day to stretch will help with flexibility.
Start by attempting to touch your toes. If you can’t, reach as far as you can, and hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds. Slowly, you will be able to go further until you can get right down to your toes.
Other good stretches to try are reaching your arms across your body or over and back from your head. But remember, anything less than 20 seconds in position and you won’t target the muscles to loosen up and get a full stretch.
For balance, start with trying to stand on one foot at a time. A good practice is beginning with 10 seconds per leg and increasing the duration over time.
To build strength, it’s best to start with a squat which is essentially being in a seated position without actually sitting down. For beginners, practice hovering over a chair in case you lose balance or need a break. The stronger your legs get, the less likely you’ll need the chair underneath you. Also, as you become stronger, you can hold this position for much longer.
To improve strength in your arms, try some simple exercises with light weights. In a standing position, hold the weights facing forward and curl your arms up so you are bringing the weights up to your chest. Repeat an up-and-down motion five times, then take a break until your next set. Once again, the more times you practice this, the more you can increase the weight.
Through practice, you can redo the sitting on the floor test and monitor your progress.
Remember, don’t be discouraged if it seems difficult at first. The tips I’ve provided will help make you stronger and keep you healthy for the many years ahead.
It’s never too late to make simple changes to improve your body and your health – no matter your age.