How fit are you, really? Fitness is not always best measured by parameters like your weight, your ability to run a 5K, or whether you can do 10 push-ups. Instead, one test of fitness is how well you can stand from a seated position.
Try this: Rise from the floor without using your hands
Before you start: Keep in mind that this test is not for everyone. For instance, someone with a sore knee, arthritis, poor balance, or another kind of limitation would have difficulty doing the test with little or no assistance.
Instructions: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed or straight out. Now stand up again. (This may not an easy movement for many people, so for safety do this with someone next to you.)
How did you do? Did you need to use your hands or knees? Could you not get up at all?
Now, do the test again, only this time grade your effort. Beginning with a score of 10, subtract one point if you do any of the following for support when you both sit and stand:
- use your hand
- use your knee
- use your forearm
- use one hand on the knee or thigh
- use the side of your leg
- lose your balance at any time.
For example, if you sat with no problem, but had to use either a hand or a knee to get up, take off one point. If you had to use both your hands and knees, deduct four points (two points each).
If you can sit and stand with no assistance, you scored a perfect 10. If you could not get up at all, your score is zero. Ideally, you want a score of eight or higher. (For the record, the first time I tried, I got a seven.)
What the no-hands test tells us about fitness
“The sit-and-rise movement — sometimes also referred to as the no-hands test — can reveal much about your current strength, flexibility, and overall wellness,” says Eric L’Italien, a physical therapist with Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Center.
Performing the sit-and-rise test requires leg and core strength, balance and coordination, and flexibility. But if you struggle, that does not necessarily mean you are out of shape.
“Think of it as a way to highlight areas of your physical health you should address,” says L’Italien. Even if you currently do reasonably well on the test, practicing it regularly can find weak spots before they become worse.
Three exercise that can improve your performance
If you need to improve your performance, here are three exercises L’Italien recommen