I'm in the throws of writing my next book and sitting much more than usual. While my brain is in hyperdrive my body hasn't gotten out of first gear for a month. I'm trying to make up for it by eating a healthy plant based diet; it's working but I'm definitely going to treat myself to a T-bone when I'm done.

Unfortunately, however, I've also been slacking on my workouts since my peak physical energy coincides with the same time of day when I'm most creative. And, in case you're wondering, no, I just can't write while I'm on an elliptical--I've tried!. Which is why this particular piece of research about longevity caught my eye.

The test I referred to in the column headline is called the SRT and it requires absolutely no equipment, it can be done anywhere--yes, you can do it right now, in the office--and according to a Brazilian doctor, Dr. Araujo, who has published the findings of a six year study in medical journals in both Europe and in the US, your score on a scale of 1-10 can predict your chances of dying in the next 5 years.

I've Never Felt Better

Most of us have a general sense of how physically fit we are, at least on a relative scale. For instance, if you're 50 you know if you feel better or worse than you did at 25. There all sorts of personal indicators that we use to measure our well being--our energy level, our ability to take a walk, run, bike, even the ease of going up a flight of stairs.

My personal benchmarks are comparing my ability to do an elliptical for 30 minutes at full throttle, how flexible I am, and the number of pull-ups and pushups I can do. No, I'm not giving up my numbers, although I can definitely do more of each at 58 than I could have at 28! But there is one particular physical ability I've always been especially proud of, but didn't think of it as an indicator of my longevity. Was I wrong!

According to Dr. Araujo, speaking on his research in USA Today, " There are some people who can bike or run for miles but can't tie their shoe laces. We realized not only aerobic fitness is important. You also need other things for your life: strength, flexibility, balance."

Which is why Dr. Araujo developed the SRT, which stands for Sitting Rising Test. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? You're probably thinking this has something to do with how easily you can get out of your Barcalounger. There's a bit more to it than that.

I'll talk about how you score yourself in a bit, but if you get a score of 3 or less (out of 10) you have a five times greater chance of dying from all causes within the next five years. So, now you're wondering if you really want to try this.

Here's how you perform the test. By the way, be sure to have somebody else score you to keep it objective.

The SRT Test

Take off your shoes and cross your legs while standing, then go to a siting position. Then with your legs crossed on the floor get back up to a standing position. Yup, that's it. But wait, here's how to keep score.

Take one point away for each arm, or hand, or elbow, or knee or side of a leg, or anything else you use to assist in sitting. Yes, asking you a coworker or your spouse to hold your hand so you don't fall over is going to be a deduction! Another point off if you use any of the above to stand back up again. Another half point gets deducted each time you loose your balance sitting or standing. Watch the video below to see the scoring system in detail.

Here are Dr Araujo's summary findings of the six year study.

Participants who:

  • scored between 0 and 3 were 6.5 times more likely to die during the study than those who scored 8-10,
  • those who scored between 3.5 and 5.5 were 3.8 times more likely to die,
  • and the ones who scored between 6 to 7.5 were 1.8 times more likely to die.

If you scored over 8 or better you should be feeling pretty good about yourself!

Go ahead, show off and do a backflip or a hand stand now.

The video below (subtitled in english) provides a detailed explanation on how to score the test.

How'd you do? Time to get back to the gym? Yeah, me too! I've naturally always done this just out of habit when I sit onto or stand up off the floor. But in the back of my mind I've always wondered, "Hmmm, I'll know I'm getting old when I can no longer do this." I hadn't tried it for a while and although I did pretty good--a self-scored 8--I did notice that my lack of exercise has had an impact.

Of course, as with any test of this sort, which isn't performed under medical supervision, the results are not a diagnosis or prognosis, and they do not replace a thorough examination of any underlying conditions by a qualified medical professional. In other words, don't get too down on yourself or too full of yourself.

Just because you scored a 9 it doesn't mean you can go out and start eating French fries and Boston creme donuts (although they really do go well together). However, a small celebration might be in order, perhaps a cheeseburger or a very petite T-bone.