The search for the ever-evasive Fountain of Youth has been the story line of a few B-grade movies and the driver behind countless crazy inventions. Yet the answer to a long life or longevity has been staring us in the face and asking us to “pick-me” for countless years. The secret to longevity is found in science and research. At the very core, the answer always remains the same. Exercise and movement.
Growing older means losing physical strength and fitness in a gradual process. The process is difficult to notice. The day comes that 60 year-old you, can’t do what 30 year-old you could. We wonder why and the answer is simple maths. If you keep doing the same thing every day of every year but you lose 3-8% of muscle mass per decade (after 30), the accumulated muscle loss will be 9-24%. Loss of muscle mass or atrophy = loss of strength and ability.
Have you seen the videos about the sit-rising test (SRT) that is a predictor of longevity in people aged 51-80 years? It is a simple test where the person is expected to sit down on the floor and rise again with no or minimal use of the hands and knees. Your score is the predictor of longevity. 10 is a perfect score. 8-10 is what we are aiming for. Can you do it?
I’m not going to scare you with what a score lower than 8 means. Loads of people struggle to do it, even those people younger than 51. The test only uses physical strength, flexibility and balance as a predictor of a longer, healthier life. The truth is we do not live in a world where only a few factors influence our longevity. Cardiovascular and mental health, to name only two, also play a large role. SRT is not the golden standard, push-ups and speed of walking can also determine our level of fitness and in so doing, determine our longevity as we get older. So don’t get stuck and down about your score.
What you practice, improves.
The good news is that this score can be improved. Every point improvement in SRT correlates with a large percentage (21%) in increased longevity. This is done by following a programme of strength, balance and flexibility training specific to the individual. And this type of training in turn has an indirect effect on cardiovascular and mental health especially when it forms part of a balanced exercise routine.
Why am I focusing on longevity and fitness/strength? I’m not sure about you but if I am going to live longer, I still want to be physically and mentally able to enjoy my extra time. I don’t want a bunch of quick-fix pills and medical wonders keeping me alive. I don’t want to be so weak and unfit that I am confined to a bed or chair all day.
Together, let us counter the effects of ageing and improve our scores no matter what the tests. Best would be to get an individual programme for your body and stage but I’ll provide you with 5 exercises that can help head you in the right direction.
Let us break it down
1. Practice Sitting and Rising
2. Practice balancing
3. Build back strength
4. Improve Hip mobility
5. Gain Glute and quad strength
If you would like to watch some more about the test, you can view this programme the BBC did.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the advice, diagnosis or treatment of a healthcare professional (HCP). It is for information purposes only. Please consult your HCP if you have any concerns.