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Squatting could be the answer to living longer, says expert

Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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When it comes to longevity many of us are aware that eating healthily and getting plenty of exercise is key. There is plenty of research out there, for example, that champions the consumption of a Mediterranean diet to boost life expectancy. However, there is also one simple change you could incorporate into daily life to potentially help you live longer.

Leslie Kenny, founder of Oxford Healthspan and co-founder of the Oxford Longevity Project, recommended eating and resting in a squat position.

This habit is common in an area known as a “blue zone” – which are five places in the world where people live the longest.

The blue zones include Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece, and Loma Linda in California.

She explained: “Blue zones are the areas of the world where people live the longest lives. In these blue zones, people will usually spend plenty of time outside in the sunshine getting active movement, such as walking, hiking and gardening.

“For example, In Okinawa, Japan, they have plenty of outdoor exercise but they are known for their ‘floor culture’, because they eat their meals and even rest in the squat position.

“The simple act of getting up and down off the floor regularly builds lower body strength
and refines balance, both of which may help protect against falls and later life frailty.”

What does the research say?

This was backed by research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

It tested the theory that the ability to sit and rise from the floor without using your hands or knees was an indicator of a longer life.

“While cardiorespiratory fitness is strongly related to survival, there is limited data regarding musculoskeletal fitness indicators,” it said.

“Our aim was to evaluate the association between the ability to sit and rise from the floor and all-cause mortality.”

To trial this more than 2,000 adults aged between 51 and 80 carried out a sitting to rising test.

Individuals were scored from zero to five, with one point being subtracted from five for each support used (hand/knee).

Their final score, varying from zero to 10, was obtained by adding sitting and rising scores and stratified in four categories.

In the follow-up period of six years there were 159 deaths (7.9 percent of participants).

The study said: “Lower sitting-rising test scores were associated with higher mortality.

“Musculoskeletal fitness, as assessed by sitting-rising test, was a significant predictor of mortality in 51 to 80-year-old subjects.

“Application of a simple and safe assessment tool such as sitting-rising test, which is influenced by muscular strength and flexibility, in general health examinations could add relevant information regarding functional capabilities and outcomes in non-hospitalized adults.”

Ms Kenny advised trying the test at home.

“Simply sit on the ground and from a seated position get up without
using your hands,” she said.

“If you can get up this way, you get an A*. If you need to use your hands, we can call that a B. If you have trouble getting up altogether, you wouldn’t get a passing grade.”

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