Test for long life: The sit-down-stand-up exercise that could predict your longevity

You might have already heard of the classic chair test – in which the person is asked to stand up from a seated position in a chair. This allows doctors to assess an older person’s lower body fitness and leg strength. It can also reveal how flexible someone is and what their coordination is like.

But a test created by researchers from Brazil – and published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2012 – is said to be predictive of how long you might live.

Sit on the floor from a standing position without using your hands, arms, or knees to slow your descent.

Then stand back up without using your hands, arms, or knees to help if possible.

If you’re finding it difficult, crossing your legs on the way down and the way up can help, and loosely holding your arms out to your sides aids balance.

As part of the Brazilian study, 2,002 adults aged between 51 and 80 were followed for an average of six years.

It found those who had to use both hands and knees to get up and down -regardless of age – were almost seven times more likely to die within six years than those who could spring up and down without support.

This was because their musculoskeletal fitness, as measured by the test, was “lacking”.

During the test each of the two basic movements of all participants were assessed and scored out of five, with one point being subtracted from five for each support used (hand or knee, for example).

Subjects were therefore assessed by a total score of zero to 10.

The report says: “Over the study period 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9 percent.

“The majority of these deaths occurred in people with low test scores – indeed, only two of the deaths were in subjects who gained a composite score of 10.”

The team explained that a high score in the sitting-rising test might “reflect the capacity to successfully perform a wide range of activities of daily living, such as bending over to pick up a newspaper or a pair of glasses from under a table”.

Speaking in the journal, one of the researchers – Dr Claudio Gil Araújo – said: “It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and coordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy.

“When compared to other approaches to functional testing, the sitting-rising test does not require specific equipment and is safe, easy to apply in a short time period (less than two minutes), and reliably scored.

“In our clinical practice, the test has been shown over the past ten years to be useful and practical for application to a large spectrum of populations, ranging from paediatric to geriatric.”

Dr Araújo added: “If a middle-aged or older man or woman can sit and rise from the floor using just one hand – or even better without the help of a hand – they are not only in the higher quartile of musculoskeletal fitness but their survival prognosis is probably better than that of those unable to do so.”

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    Blood clots: The popular drink linked to a higher risk of clotting ‘in the small arteries’

    Blood clots are small masses of blood that can move around the body or remain stationary, and the threat they pose will depend largely on their location and severity. Arterial blood clots are among the most dangerous because they can obstruct blood flow to vital organs, such as the heart and brain. One study has suggested diet drinks could be linked to a higher risk of blood clots forming inside the small arteries.

    Blood clotting is critical to stop bleeding after an injury, but when a clot forms unnecessarily, it can put the body in danger.

    An ischaemic stroke, which occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed, accounts for 87 percent of all strokes.

    This occurs because obstruction of blood flow to the brain means the organ is suddenly deprived of oxygen and other vital nutrients.

    The clots responsible for this type of injury usually form in areas where the arteries have been narrowed or blocked over time by fatty deposits known as plaques, according to the NHS.

    Results later showed that among postmenopausal women, drinking multiple diet drinks daily was associated with an increased risk of suffering a stroke caused by a blockage in the small arteries.

    Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, lead author of the study and associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York: “Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drinks low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet.

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    The study, co-authored by Shirley Beresford, senior associate dean and professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health, and co-author of the study, said: “Part of what makes this study important is that people who regularly drink soda or other sugary beverages tend to switch to artificially sweetened beverages to lose weight when the ideal is to substitute with water.”

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    High cholesterol can be inherited – four physical signs ‘when extra cholesterol builds up’

    Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a disorder that causes high cholesterol among around one in 250 people. Those with FH will have higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol, increasing their chance of coronary heart disease at a young age. But if caught early it can reduce the risk of this happening by 80 percent.

    According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are four telltale signs that could mean you have FH.

    “Your doctor may be able to detect physical signs of FH during a clinical exam, although not everyone with FH has these signs,” the CDC says.

    “These physical signs of FH occur when extra cholesterol builds up in different parts of the body.

    “If your doctor suspects you have FH, he or she may refer you for genetic counselling and testing for FH.”

    These symptoms are:

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    The CDC explains: “One of the main signs of FH is LDL cholesterol levels over 190 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) in adults (and over 160 mg/dL in children).

    “In addition, most people with FH have a family health history of early heart disease or heart attacks.”

    It adds: “In some cases, elevated LDL levels are found through routine blood cholesterol screening.

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    As cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood, eating a healthier diet is often recommended to reduce levels.

    But in the case of FH, eating healthily and exercising regularly are often “not enough to lower your cholesterol to a healthy level”.

    People with FH will likely need to take at least one cholesterol-lowering medicine to control cholesterol levels.

    These will often be from a group of drugs called statins.

    However, the CDC does recommend maintaining a healthy lifestyle alongside taking medication.

    It advises: “Making healthy lifestyle changes for your family can benefit your children who may be at risk for FH and promote healthy habits that they will continue as adults.”

    Ways to lower your cholesterol include:

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    How to sleep: The simple activity to do 15 minutes before bed to reduce stress and anxiety

    It is thought that a third of Britons will experience a form of insomnia in their lifetime. For some people it can be traced back to their mental health rather than a physical ailment. Sleep psychologist from Somnus Therapy, Katherine Hall – who has been working with Happy Beds, suggested ways to prevent these issues impacting your sleep.

    Speaking with Express.co.uk, she recommended journaling or “writing down your feelings” 15 minutes before going to bed every night.

    She explained: “By writing down your feelings, it helps put your feelings of anxiety into perspective and give you a form of structure.

    “It allows you to write and recognise any unresolved thoughts or moments from the day to reduce your worries and drift off more quickly.

    “It can help with reduction in stress, anxiety and depression and therefore help our sleep performance.

    “Try journaling 15 minutes a day for a few consecutive days and express what you feel without any worry of spelling or grammar.

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    “What you do with your expressive writing is completely up to you.”

    She also believed it could fend off any unwanted nightmares.

    “Expressive writing has been shown to enable the writer to better regulate their emotions, as well as helping the writer break free from the endless mental cycling of brooding or rumination,” she said.

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    Katherine shared some other tips for combatting bad dreams at night.

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    When the alcohol starts to wear off it’s not uncommon to experience really vivid dreams or nightmares.

    The NHS lists the most common causes of insomnia as:

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    Early dementia could be found using clock-drawing test – ‘Quick way to screen’ say experts

    Being able to draw the perfect clock, with everything in the right place, can exclude dementia from a list of possible health problems, according to the NHS.

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    Studies have found that the clock test can significantly predict whether early stages of dementia – even when other tests have failed.

    The clock-drawing test should be done in the presence of trained medical professionals to avoid inferring anything incorrect.

    If your doctor uses this test, they will provide you with a pencil and a pre-drawn circle. They will then ask you to draw the numbers on the front of the clock, then show a time.

    The test is then scored. Inaccuracies with the drawing, like missing features and duplicated numbers are considered while the health professional calculates the score.

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    High cholesterol patients ‘need to be more careful’ how often they eat a certain seafood

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    Heart UK emphasises that “you can still eat some of these foods”. But the health body states “you need to be more careful about how often you eat them to ensure you’re keeping within the guidelines”.

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    Instead, it’s “more important” for these people to slash high levels of saturated fat in their foods.

    Saturated fat directly affects how the liver handles cholesterol, meaning it can indirectly raise your blood cholesterol.

    Studies have found that diets rich in saturated fatty acids also create a greater increase in liver fat and insulin resistance.

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    High cholesterol can be hard to detect as it doesn’t cause symptoms. Instead, you find out you have the issue through blood tests.

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    Diabetes symptom to watch out for – ‘Common complaint’ in people with the condition

    Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes cause the level of sugar – or glucose – in your blood to become too high. For type 1 patients this happens when your body cannot produce enough of a hormone called insulin, which controls blood glucose. Whereas type 2 diabetes is much more common and the raised blood sugar levels are usually caused by being overweight or not exercising enough.

    With both types patients could experience itchy skin.

    According to Diabetes.co.uk, it is a “common complaint” usually felt in the skin around the feet, ankles or legs.

    It explains: “Itchy skin can be a sign of diabetes, particularly if other diabetes symptoms are also present.

    “High blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time is one cause of itchy skin.

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    Common treatments include:

    But Diabetes.co.uk adds: “It is advisable to see your doctor if itching is severe or persistent.

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    Other symptoms of diabetes include:

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    There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including if you:

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Health Care Test for long life: The sit-down-stand-up exercise that could predict your longevity