Ability to sit and rise from the floor, with or without assistance from hands and knees.

One thing that struck me as I was doing the HASfit exercise videos is how, in many of the videos, there is much of getting down on the floor and then getting back up on my feet again, over and over. I think that adds substantially to the workout.

Recently it also makes me think of a particular study I came across months ago. I’ve been meaning to note it down here.

The study is of this test called the Sitting-Rising Test. The study author is Dr. Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo, Ph.D., a professor at Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro. It was in the news recently around the beginning of the year with many articles published about it. The ones I read included Men’s Health News and Mail Online. All the articles echo the spectacular idea that the test may predict how long you’re going to live.

I’m not interested in that part, but more in that the test could help gauge stuff like muscular strength, flexibility and balance. It never occured to me that such a basic motion (sitting down on the floor and getting back up again) could turn out to be so fascinatingly revealing.

Here’s a video explaining the Sitting-Rising Test. It’s in Portuguese if I’m not mistaken, but in any case there are clear English subtitles.

My favourite article covering the test is from Dr. Mercola. I love how clear and concise it is. It even comes with a helpful summary section called ‘Story-at-a-glance‘, which sums up the article like this:

  • How well you can sit and rise from the floor, without using assistance from your hands, knees or other body parts, may predict your risk of dying prematurely in the next six years.
  • Those who scored the lowest, requiring the most assistance to sit and rise from the floor, were 6.5 times more likely to die during the study period than those who scored the highest.
  • The “sitting-rising test” measures your fitness at the most basic level, testing not only muscular strength but also flexibility, balance and motor coordination. All of these attributes are essential for day-to-day living, and for maintaining your independence as you age.
  • You can extend not only the quantity of your years, but also the quality, by making a few simple changes to your lifestyle, involving diet, exercise, stress reduction and more.

That’s the summary, but the article is worth reading in its entirety. It’s not very long at all and is jam-packed with a lot of interesting information. It is features a 2-minute video of a suggested yoga-esque exercise called ‘The Founder‘ by chiropractor Eric Goodman, which I’ve tried and like.

Surprisingly though, no mention of yoga which I thought would be an obvious tip to help improve performance of the test. There’s a quick mention but related to stress reduction. I thought practising yoga would be more prominently advised as I would think it’s the activity to engage in to make you super flexible and limber and then some.

Then I got to thinking about:

THE SIT-AND-RISE ACTIVITIES I DO IN MY DAILY LIFE

  • Certainly not at meal times

That’s the first thing that crossed my mind. For us Malays, it was so common to eat on the floor, just like for many other cultures around the world. But that was perhaps decades ago. It was more common to have our meals at home sitting cross-legged on a mat on the floor, which by the way, we can do because we don’t wear shoes or other footwear inside the house. But today we eat like that only for certain big gatherings.

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Image for illustrative purpose, from arabswagger.tumblr.com. Click to go there.

When it’s just us or our families, I think it’s far more common to eat at the dining table. Speaking for myself only, I can’t help but think this contributes to me being less flexible. I’m ‘too used to sitting on a chair’ and I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor for long now. It gets uncomfortable or downright painful after about 20 minutes or so. And I’m aware that being on the stocky side also adds to the discomfort, haha…

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Johnny Cash putting me to shame! And he wasn’t even Malay!
(this cute pic of a young Johnny Cash eating cake from vortexanomaly.tumblr.com. Click image to go to source.)

  • 1. Prayer

There are positions us Muslims do as part of our daily prayer that have us bend and kneel and get down on the floor and back up again, several times. Of course when I pray it’s for Allah s.w.t. and for no other reason or purpose but for Him only. It’s nice though thinking of the added health benefit.

Digressing a bit, this also reminds me of a conversation I had with my late Mum many years ago.  Some time after having practically moved out to live with my partner, I was for some reason casually relating to her that I don’t like to sit on the floor, that I can’t seem to do it for long as it soon becomes uncomfortable. And she responded by muttering angrily at me, “That’s because you don’t pray! It shows you haven’t been praying! You haven’t been praying, right?! You haven’t been praying, right?!”. I was stunned, and could only look guilty and think to myself, “oh shit, she caught me.”, haha.

  • 2. Reading the holy Qur’an.

It’s a habit to read some verses every Thursday evening. I don’t proclaim to be such a good boy that I do it every single Thursday without fail. But when I do, the reading is done sitting cross-legged on a mat on the floor. It takes me about 20 minutes each time, and yup that’s about the only time I can bear to sit cross-legged. Afterwards I have to slowly stretch out my legs again and it takes some time before I can stand up properly. Goodness, I’m still really out of shape!

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I’m sentimental for ‘world peace’ themed photos like this. It’s just so darn sweet. *sniff*
(Image from blackvintagebarbie.tumblr.com, first seen via lovepeaceislam.tumblr.com. Click to go to source.)

  • 3. And now, all the way from Texas of the U.S.A., HASfit exercise videos as well! Yay!

The following is an example of the free videos offered by them with a routine that includes making me get down on the floor, then back up again, over and over and over again. This is a 26-minute workout that, as the title suggests, does not need any equipment whatsoever, not even dumbbells. It’s doable, but tough. I was already panting noisily by the halfway point when I did the workout yesterday.

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2 thoughts on “Ability to sit and rise from the floor, with or without assistance from hands and knees.

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