You may not have heard about this study that came out a few years ago, but it'll change how you think about fitness. Researchers found one simple test that predicts your odds of survival. All you need is the floor & 2 spare minutes.
The study, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, examined the death rates of more than 2000 individuals in relation to an unusual test of fitness. Researchers gave the participants one instruction:
Without worrying about the speed of movement, try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support that you believe is needed.
Participants were scored from 0 to 10 based on their use of hands, knees, etc. The scary part? In the follow-up period after the test, individuals with a score less than 8 had up to a 5-fold increase in death rates. But the craziest part was that even improving the score by 1 led to a 21% reduction in mortality. One point. In essence, if you're in the LOOK MA, NO HANDS group, you have a MUCH lower risk of death than the folks who need even one hand to get up.
How Do You Stack Up?
Put yourself in the participants' shoes. Go from standing to sitting on the floor, and right back up. Take note of how you do so. Do you rely on your hands or knees? Do you do it with control? Do you use momentum? I'd love to hear how you do in the comments below!
What You Can Do
The simple answer is spend more time on the floor. Now it's tempting to just lay there, but you'll get more benefit from moving while you're down there.
Need some inspiration?
Take a note from infants. They're going through the most intense period of strength training of their lives, right before your eyes. Infants & toddlers explore a huge range of movements on the ground with varying levels of support. You'll find some pretty clear milestones too. These motor primitives, developmental archetypes of movement, are big benchmarks of physical ability & "fitness" of the musculoskeletal system.
What are some of the more familiar positions? Think along the lines of...
- Lying on your back (supine)
- Lying on your stomach (prone)
- Side lying
- Supporting one your forearms (the "sphynx")
- On all fours (quarduped)
- Kneeling & half kneeling
Pick two of these positions and explore how you can move between them. For example: how do you move from lying on your stomach to kneeling? Can you find other ways to do it? What happens if you don't use one of your arms?
These transitions are the building blocks of more complex movements, and you'll find that time spent on the floor is revealing. Not only does it highlight areas where you hold tension, it also gives vastly improved sensory feedback. So do your body a favor. Make the floor an integral part of your fitness routine. It just might save your life.
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