Mike O’Hara gives tips for aging gracefully and staying fit in his article, The Five Don’ts of Sustainable Fitness. Learn the importance of increasing mobility and stability in order to get stronger, and discover how a simple test that measures how well you get up from the floor can tell a lot about whether or not your fitness program is working.
Are you getting better or are you getting worse? No one stays the same. Our children get standardized reading tests, math exams, and comprehension assessments to measure learning. Your doctor continually assesses your blood pressure, lipid profile, and indicators of inflammation to determine if prescribed medication and lifestyle changes produce a beneficial response. In physical therapy, we look at range of motion, strength, mobility, balance, and movement patterns to make judgments on our treatment programs. In the fitness world, assessment is generally absent. This wastes valuable training time and can lead to injuries. I have some suggestions on basic fitness tests we can all use to determine if our exercise program is helping or hindering our physical performance.
The best performance tests require minimal testing equipment and can be performed safely by most individuals. They produce a time, a distance, or a measurement that can be recorded and compared to future and past results. The results are used to guide the choices you make in your exercise program. If performance tests worsen, then what you are doing is not working and you need to make some changes. If performance tests get better, be happy and keep on with your present training.
In the physical therapy clinic, we frequently see patients who pass some performance tests with an A+ grade and get a D- in other tests. They are the equivalent of the sixth grader who reads at a college level but is unable to perform simple addition and subtraction. The deficit in performance is what created the pain that brought them to the physical therapy clinic. The long term solution for these patients is to create a program of training that brings the D- up to a B grade. More reading will not improve the student’s dismal math grade.
Performance tests are the cure for the “I am not seeing any results” issue. Many well-intentioned exercise programs destroy performance, inhibit fat loss, and reduce functional capacity. Consistent assessments alert us to problems before pain is created and too much time is wasted.
Sitting Rising Test (SRT)
I like this test for nearly everyone. If you have knee stability issues, you may want to avoid this test. The SRT is very revealing, and it is often a wake up call for the “I ride the elliptical and watch TV” gym member. It takes less than five minutes to perform and nearly everyone can understand the scoring. It is a motivator that sends gym members and physical therapy patients in search of some balance, strength, and mobility.
The SRT was developed by Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo at the Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Brazil. He found that many of his cardiac patients could pass a treadmill stress test but had very limited strength and mobility. He devised a simple functional test that anyone can perform to assess balance, mobility, and strength.
- Stand in comfortable clothes, in your bare feet, with a clear space around you.
- Lower yourself to a sitting position on the floor without leaning on anything.
- Stand back up, trying not to use your hands, knees, forearms, or the sides of your legs.
For the lowering portion you have five points. For the rising portion you have five points. A perfect score is a ten. Subtract one point every time a hand, knee, thigh, forearm, or side of leg is used to assist sitting down or rising back up. Subtract one half point for a loss of balance.
Example: Touch the hand and the side of the leg on the way down the score is 3. Touch the forearm and then wobble on the way up and score a 3 ½. Total score 6 ½.
After following over 2000 patients in the 51 to 80 year age range, the data revealed some interesting findings. Patients who scored lower than eight points were twice as likely to die within the next six years compared to those with scores greater than eight. The patients who scored three points or fewer were five times more likely to die compared to those who scored more than eight points.
A beneficial fitness program should make the Sitting Rising Test score better. A bad training program makes the score worse. Take this assessment every four weeks and make sure your exercise program is taking you in the right direction.
-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS
To view video demonstration of the Sitting Rising Test, click on the link below: