How well older adults can sit and rise from the floor is an indication of their risk of death, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, evaluated how well more than 2,000 men and women between 51 and 80 years of age could sit and rise from the floor. The sit-rise exercise was a measure of muscular strength and flexibility.

Participants were scored between zero and 10, with points deducted for using support, such as the hand to the knee. Those who scored 10 sat and rose without any support.

Lower scores were associated with higher rates of death. During the follow-up an average of six years after the test, almost 8 percent of the participants died. Most of those deaths occurred among people with low test scores. Only two people who scored 10 on the test died. Those who scored zero on the test were five to six times more likely to die. The results do not show cause and effect, but rather, an association between a lack of strength and flexibility and earlier death.

The study was published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention.

— Anne Aurand, The Bulletin