Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo and colleagues at the Clinimex -- Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro, and colleagues performed an assessment in 2002 on adults of both sexes age 51-80.
Before starting the test, the study subjects were told: "Without worrying about the speed of movement, try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support that you believe is needed."
The subjects were tracked from the date of the first test until the date of death or Oct. 31, 2011, a median followup of 6.3 years. During the study period, 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9 percent.
Each of the two basic movements -- sitting down and getting up -- were assessed and scored from 1 to 5, with one point subtracted from 5 for each support used such as a hand or knee. Subjects were assessed by a composite score of 0 to 10.
The findings, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, found the majority of these deaths occurred in people with low test scores -- only two of the deaths were in subjects who gained a composite score of 10.
A composite score of 8 or below -- requiring more than one hand or knee support to sit and rise from the floor in a stable way -- was associated with a two-fold higher death rate over the study period.