You’ve heard of the SAT tests for college entrance for high schoolers. Now there’s the SRT test for aging. Yes, it’s for real. Here’s the story.
The SRT Test has been all over the media recently. It seems that if you can get down to the floor and then up again without using your hands or your knees, you are likely to live significantly longer than if you have to use your hands or knees. If you can’t perform the test, you are likely to die sooner. You have to cross your legs near the ankles, and sit straight down without using hands or knees, and then get up the same way. I must confess that I tried it and am not able to do it — yet.
It seems a Brazilian doctor did a six year “study” (if you are a long time reader of my blog, you know my attitude about “studies”) that demonstrated this clearly. The results of the study were published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in December, 2012, and have just recently have become a darling of the media. I read about it recently in several publications and have seen numerous different publication dates for the study itself.
Subsequent studies and anecdotal evidence show that most people over 50 could not pass the test. Since the test was conducted with 2000 people age 51 to 80, I can only question the significance of the test at all. To me, it’s just fine to use your hands and feet to get up and down.
I have a great deal of skepticism about the validity of the test. There are too many variables that would be involved other than longevity issues of health and fitness. But it seems to be one of those “published studies” that so many people are willing to accept without challenging, and that the media dwells on for so long.
What the study does demonstrate is that a lack of flexibility, leg strength and balance can be a “descriptor” of an out of shape and “at risk” person, young or old. In fact, in the study’s own words: “Musculoskeletal fitness, as assessed by SRT, was a significant predictor of mortality in 51 – 80 year old subjects.” I can get down on the floor without using my hands, but I do use my knees and hips. I can get up from and down to one step on the stairs using the SRT method, but not all the way to the floor. I would think a person with bad knees would not be able to do the test at all, and not to have to worry about dying before their time.
Can you pass the SRT test? Give it a try. But please be careful and hold on to the back of a chair or something stable at first. The important point to be made from all this is that the ability to get down to and up from the floor is a critical life skill for older adults. It’s certainly OK to use your hands and knees, but it is a skill that you need to learn and practice before you lose your leg strength. Remember, loss of leg strength is one of the early symptoms of aging, and the ability even to get directly up and down from a chair without support is threatened, let alone getting up and down from the floor.
Here’s a link to a video about the test, complete with English subtitles, that shows the way the test is done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQ2WA2T2oA . The comments to the YouTube video are telling.
Thank you for reading.