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Exercise isn't enough. To remain healthy, you need to build athleticism. Here's how.

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What is the best predictor of when you’ll die? That seems like a hard—not to mention morbid—question, but, incredibly, study after study is showing that simple tests of physical performance are highly predictive of future mortality.  

My favorite recent example is a study from Brazil that tracked just over 2,000 subjects age 50 and up. A 10 point score system was developed to assess how easily they could get up off the floor based on a sitting-rising test (SRT):

Lower SRT scores were associated with higher mortality (p<0.001). A continuous trend for longer survival was reflected by multivariate-adjusted (age, sex, body mass index) hazard ratios of 5.44 (95% CI 3.1–9.5), 3.44 (95% CI 2.0–5.9), and 1.84 (95% CI 1.1–3.0) (p<0.001) from lower to higher SRT scores. Each unit increase in SRT score conferred a 21% improvement in survival. Conclusions: Musculoskeletal fitness, as assessed by SRT, was a significant predictor of mortality in 51–80-year-old subjects.

There was a clear relationship between how easy it was for the people to get off the floor and how long they lived.

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