How Many Years Do You Have Left?

Sometimes research gets so bizarre and obtuse that the results seem meaningless. For example, Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo came up with a test to predict how many years we have left.

The test was for 51 to 80 year olds, but so far I haven’t found anyone that age who could perform the test perfectly, not even the dancers I know. For the test, you’re supposed to stand in the middle of the room, cross your legs, then gracefully lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position without using your hands, elbows, or knees. You get 5 points if you can get down into a sitting position. If you can do it but are clumsy, you lose a point. Every time a hand or knee touched the ground, you lose another point. Next, you’re supposed to stand up, legs still crossed, without any part of you touching the ground. This gains you another five points, but again, if you are clumsy, you lose a point. Every time a body part touches the ground, you lose a point.

The maximum is ten points. Araujo’s research indicated that if you score less than 8 points, you are twice as likely to die within the next five years as those who scored more than 8, and if you score less than 3 points, you are five times more likely to die.

According to these statistics, I should have been dead long ago. I have never in my life, except perhaps as a small child, been able to do simply cross my legs and sink gracefully into a cross-legged sitting position.

Beyond that, the parameters of the test were ridiculous — there is a vast difference in mortality and fitness, health and agility from the ages of 51 to 80. The test would have had more validity if it centered on a single age or at least narrowed the age grouping. 51 to 60, 61 to 70, 71 to 80. It should also have been divided by men and women.

A 51-year-old male has a .59% chance of dying within a year, and a 51-year-old woman has a .35% chance of dying. An 80-year-old man has a 6.16% chance of dying within a year, and an 80-year-old woman has a 4.39 chance of dying. Considering that as a rule men have shorter life expectancies, and 68% of the participants were men, the test results would have been skewed even further. Supposedly, they adjusted for such factors, but there was no indication of what those adjustments comprised. Besides, genetics is a huge factor. If one’s parents lived to a very old age, you have a better chance of doing so yourself regardless of your ability to sit crosslegged. (The test does not apply to those less than 50 since the results are vastly different.)

The way I figure, f you want to know how long you have left to live — just live life to the fullest, and one day you will arrive at the end. Then you will know.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.