I love simple tests. Tests you can’t cheat, tests you can’t “hack”, tests that give me a lot of information in a short period of time.
One of my favourite tests tells me how likely you are to die in the next 6 years. And it takes 10 seconds.
It’s called the Brazilian Get Up Test.
I like to take new clients through this test because it tells me a lot about their mobility, strength, and balance.
It’s also a simple life expectancy calculator: a doctor in Brazil put 2,000 people aged 51-80 through the test and followed up 6 years later. Those who scored poorly were five times more likely to have died than those who scored well.
This is the test: can you go from a standing position to a sitting position (on the floor) and then rise back up to a standing position without your hands, arms, knees, or sides of the legs touching the ground?
You start with 10 points. 1 point is deducted every time you place a hand, arm, knee, or the side of the leg on the floor for support. 1 point is also deducted if you place a hand on your leg for support. Half a point is deducted for loss of balance.
I’m pretty sure I scored a 10. What do you think?
Your likelihood of dying in the next six years doubles if you score fewer than 8 points. Score fewer than 4 points, and you’re five times more likely to die.
Aim for 8, and don’t let that score drop. Test yourself once a month.
Why is this such an accurate life expectancy calculator? Because you have to be relatively strong, mobile, and well-balanced to score well. Lacking in any of these areas dramatically increases your chances of experiencing a dangerous fall.
The test is mostly applicable to adults over 50, but I make sure that all my clients, regardless of age, are able to score 8 points or higher.
Why? Because I base my programming on functional strength principles, covering overall strength, mobility, and balance. These three principles are examined in the Brazilian Get Up Test. Therefore, the test acts as a good assessment of how well I’m serving my clients.
What should you do if you score poorly on this life expectancy calculator?
1. Start strength training
If you don’t already lift weights a couple of times a week, start now. Train your full body every time you work out – forget that “leg day”, “chest day”, “arm day” crap – and focus on performing the exercises with a full range of motion.
2. Get more mobile
I’ve used the word mobile a couple of times in this blog post, which basically means flexible. Work on making the hips, hamstrings, adductors (inner thigh), and ankles as mobile as possible. Foam rolling and light stretching before lifting weights is a good way of doing this.
3. Improve your balance
My favourite way of improving balance in the lower body is to perform unilateral exercises, which means working one leg at a time.
Lunges – reverse, forward, lateral, curtsy etc. – are perfect for strengthening the legs while improving balance. Single leg deadlifts also work well.
As life expectancy calculators go, this is a basic one. But it does tell me a lot about a person’s strength, mobility, and balance in less than 10 seconds. There aren’t many other assessments that give me so much information in such a short period of time.
If I find any, I’ll blog about them.