Can sitting on the floor really improve your health and help you live longer?

Can sitting on the floor really improve your health and help you live longer?

Believe it or not but something as simple as sitting on the floor has been linked to multiple health benefits, including improved mobility, healthier joints, stronger muscles, and longer life.

We are used to having furniture around. Our office chairs have become like something out of a sci-fi film.  Tonnes of ergonomic features, special cushions for the lower back, foot support... And yet, it is sitting on the floor that has proved to benefit our fitness levels the most.

Sitting on the floor has multiple benefits

Multiple studies correlate the ability to sit and rise from the floor without support with a longer life expectancy. Sitting on the floor, and getting up from the floor unsupported has a positive benefit on musculoskeletal fitness.

Sitting on the floor is common in many cultures

The constant getting up and down from the floor works our legs, back, and core in a natural way, improving mobility and training large groups of muscles without us even noticing. Sitting on the floor also improves posture and increases overall strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Sitting on the floor improves your fitness levels

The Danish twin study concluded that the average person’s lifespan is 20% determined by genetics and 80% determined by environment and lifestyle.

It is noticeable that some of the world's centenarians come from cultures where sitting on the floor is commonplace. Okinawans get up from the floor about every 20 minutes (we are talking about men and women who are close to 100 years old!). They are living proof that a sedentary lifestyle of sitting throughout the day cannot be fixed by 30-minute trips to the gym.

Create your own space to sit on the floor

You can easily create a sitting area on the floor in your house. Use comfy cushions to prop yourself up and spend some time reading, working, drinking tea or coffee, and conversing with friends and family that way.

The sitting-rising test

It seems a simple enough challenge: Sit down on the floor and get back up without the help of your hands or knees. Try it, though, and you might discover it’s not as easy as it sounds.

This test was designed to predict mortality in middle-aged and older people. The test was devised by a team led by Claudio Gil Araújo, a Brazilian physician and researcher in exercise and sports medicine, and published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention in 2012.

How to do it

All you have to do is lower yourself, crisscross style, to the floor, without using your hands or arms to help you. If you can stand back up without the aid of any other body part, you passed the test with a perfect 10. Every time you use any forbidden part of your body (any at all), you lose one point.

Researchers tested around 2,000 adults from 51 to 80 years old, and then followed them until a participant died or until the study concluded, which was a median of 6.3 years. In that time, 159 people died — only two of whom had scored a perfect 10. Those who had the lowest score of zero to three points had a risk of death that was five to six times higher than those who scored eight to 10 points.

“It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio, and coordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favorable influence on life expectancy,” Araújo said in a 2012 news release.

"I've failed! What now?"

Don't worry, if you have failed this test, you are not doomed. Luckily, a few more variables apply to our health (and our longevity) than those this test focuses on. It’s important to remember that the study results are most relevant to those the same age as the subjects in the testing group, who were aged 51 and up. However, it's a good indication that can tell you whether or not you should get your affairs in order!

Source: Blue Zones

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