Mobility, coordination, and strength become more important as we age. Simple things we are for granted, like the ability to sit down on the floor and rise from that seated position require a degree of muscular strength and coordination along with joint mobility. This is why we emphasize strength and regular movement for our patients. Not just for the vanity effects that come with exercise, or the cardiovascular benefits, but so we can continue to execute standard activities of daily living.
Aside from the importance of being able to maintain freedom of movement as we age, are there other factors to consider when dealing with mobility and coordination?
A retrospective cohort study from 2012 examined the relationship between the ability to sit down and rise from the floor and overall health and mortality.
What was studied?
The study was a retrospective analysis of data collected from over 2000 individuals aged 51 to 80 years old, and examined the individual’s ability to rise from a seated position on the floor without use of any additional support from hands, elbows, or knees. The test was scored from 0-5. Each additional limb that was used to assist them in rising from the floor subtracted one point from five. For example, if an individual used a hand and a knee to rise from the floor the tester would subtract two points for a score of 3. Follow up was completed over the next several years (median follow up of 6.3 years).
What did the study find?
During the course of follow up the researchers found a stronger correlation with lower scores in the standing test and risks of all cause mortality. In other words, the individuals who passed away during follow up were more likely to have previously scored lower on the standing test than those who survived that period of time and scored higher on the test.
What can we learn from this?
First, lets talk about some limitations of the study. This study doesn’t necessarily prove that lack of mobility and strength causes morbidity and mortality, only that there was a strong correlation. If we take into account the variations in age in the study (50-80) we must consider the differences between a 50 year old and an 80 year old even though the analysis accounted for variations in age, body mass, and gender.
Despite some these limitations, this study points to the importance of maintaining freedom of movement and the ability to move through seemingly mundane movement patterns. Remaining active and mobile as you age is incredibly important not only for decreasing risk of dependency for activities of daily living, but also for the overall health benefits that are likely associated with it.
de Brito, Leonardo Barbosa Barreto, et al. "Ability to sit and rise from the floor as a predictor of all-cause mortality." European journal of preventive cardiology 21.7 (2014): 892-898.