How often do you pinch your eyebrows and use the nearest support to get up from a grounded position? And by you, we assume, a normal 'un-ailing healthy' person. If your answer is quite often, then we have to unfortunately remove healthy from the paranthesis and all that remains is an 'unailing' not-so-healthy individual of you! Seeing young individuals unable to even get up from a chair without taking support, makes us wonder how miserably we have shelved health and fitness on the last rack of our priorities. Basic functional tasks like walking up the stairs, touching your toes or simply getting up in an upright position from a grounded one, they all pose a very important question to us: are we fit? Our strength doesn’t lie in the amount weight we plate onto the Smith machine, but in lifting our own weight with ease.
Fitness is a conglomeration of various parameters and there cannot be an isolated test to calibrate our fitness quotient, but there is one such test that has been around for a while but gained popularity in the recent times to access our basic muscle strength and coordination: The Sitting-Standing Test.
Designed in 2012 by Dr. Brazilian Claudio Gil Araújo, an exercise and sports-medicine expert, to assess muscle strength, balance and flexibility, this test evaluates your ability to sit on the floor and rise unaided, that is without using your hands, legs, elbows/forearms or knees for support. There are basically 5 ways of support we can seek during this activity: hand on floor, forearm on floor, knee on floor, side of the leg on floor and hand on the knee. You will surely relive your school days doing this because this activity comes with a scoreboard! These 5 support points form the basis of assessing your fitness level.
You are entitled to a maximum score of 10; 5 each for sitting and getting back up; and this is perhaps the only test you would have ever taken where you start with a full score, a perfect 10! But with every one support point you use, you lose a point on the your assessment sheet. Talk about reverse psychology!
Oh wait, that doesn’t end there. You can lose an additional 0.5 points for an unsteady and wobbly execution. Now talk about reverse psychology hung-over with performance pressure!
The good thing is that you are not assessed on your speed. You can choose to go slow or bolt up and down, as long as you are able to maintain your balance and not sacrifice that half a point on the altar of over-confidence!
Sitting and getting up seem almost effortless and involuntary activities, but the amount of hard-work that goes behind them, only your muscles know. And by muscles, we mean a lot of them, not just one.
The primary parts of our body that assist in sitting and standing and give us an erect posture are LEGS-our pillars, SPINE-the structural framework, and TORSO-our beam support.
Nobody is devoid of muscles. We all have every single muscle fibre genetically designed for Homo sapiens. But the strength, agility, flexibility and stability differs from one person to another. Foremost, we need to keep our muscles moving for them to function, and secondly, we need to constantly strengthen them in order to execute basic or advanced movements. Fundamental strength and functional training with or without weights, resistance exercise, yoga and cardiovascular exercises, are all essential in equity to provide strength, flexibility and balance to our body. It is incredible to see that the simplest of lifestyle activities can be such a crucial parameter to assess where we stand on our own fitness pedestral.
The Sitting-Standing test is a fantastic yardstick to assess us impartially. It may burst our bubbles and dishearten us once our scores are chalked out, but like may other touchstones life throws at us, this too shall show us the mirror and prompt us to get our shoulders to the wheels. It is undoubtedly a world full of traffic jams, unsatisfactory jobs, and relationship heartburns. But then we also see early morning walkers, laughter clubbers, gym lovers, sportspersons and yogis. For every couch potato, there is a triathlete and for every broken new year resolution, there is the new gym opening in the neighbourhood! The balance hasn’t been lost as yet. We need to derive our motivation from the active and shun passivity. Someone rightly said “If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live in?”
It is not important to be a heavy lifter, but to be functionally fit, is indispensable. So keep your muscles roaring and your SST score soaring!
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.