Physiotherapy - The Journal of Indian Association of Physiotherapists

: 2018  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 58--62

Reaction time in sitting and standing postures among typical young adults

MN Anitha, Vijay Raj V Samuel 
 Department of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy, JSS College of Physiotherapy, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Asst Prof. Vijay Raj V Samuel
Department of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy, JSS College of Physiotherapy, MG Road, Mysore - 571 440, Karnataka


CONTEXT: Reaction time (RT) is one of the important components of physical fitness. Evaluation of RT is vital to understand and plan a training program. There is a need to comprehend the normative values of RT in young adults in different functional postures, which will enable the clinician to plan the fitness program effectively. AIMS: The aim of this study was to observe the RT in sitting and standing postures among typical young adults. SETTINGS AND DESIGN: This was an observational study. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Sixty-five young Indian men and women students from a college at Mysore were included in the study. The participants' dominant hand was used to assess the RT in standing and sitting postures with their dominant hand. With the given distance, the RT was then calculated using standard conversion formulae. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS USED: The RT between standing and sitting was analyzed using mean, standard deviation (SD), and paired t-test. RESULTS: The RT analyzed for 22 men in sitting showed excellent RT with a mean 0.1188 (SD 0.0455) and 0.0929 (SD 0.0385) in sitting and standing postures, respectively. Women (n = 43) in sitting had a good RT with a mean of 0.1401 (SD 0.0314) and in standing an excellent RT with a mean of 0.1092 (SD 0.0323). Men had better performance when compared with women, both in standing and sitting postures. Paired test for standing and sitting showed significant difference with t value of 5.364 and P < 0.005, with reduced RT in standing. CONCLUSIONS: The study concludes that the RT is comparatively reduced in standing than in sitting among the young adults.

How to cite this article:
Anitha M N, Samuel VR. Reaction time in sitting and standing postures among typical young adults.Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother 2018;12:58-62

How to cite this URL:
Anitha M N, Samuel VR. Reaction time in sitting and standing postures among typical young adults. Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Jan 15 ];12:58-62
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Full Text


Reaction is defined as the ability to respond to a stimulus, and reaction time (RT) is the time between the application of the stimulus and the response.[1] There are various methods to evaluate RT, which utilizes the time with reference to the distance and gravity.[2] The intensity and duration of the stimulus, age, gender, physical fitness, type of stimulus, practice, distraction, weight, and neuromuscular diseases are some factors which can affect the RT. Trained athletes have less RT than the nonathletes.[3],[4] Cognitive distraction prevents attention to visual scene which increases the RT. Coordinating eye and arm movements is central to our natural behavior. Eye–hand coordination depends on a combination of retinal and extra-retinal signals necessary for accurate movement. One possible advantage of correlated RTs is to allow the eye to acquire a target at a consistent time with respect to the arm movement. This temporal consistency could enhance the performance of visual processes guiding manual accuracy. Therefore, RT correlations may constitute a signature of coordinated eye and arm movements.[5]

The importance of RT in sports is to develop fine motor skills for athletes in specific movements; this improves as a result of extensive practice of those concerned movements in athletic events. Shorter RT in athletes could be due to improved concentration and alertness, better muscular coordination, and improved performance in speed and accuracy tasks.[6] Speedy reaction is helpful in sports such as football, basketball, and tennis.[4] Several studies have found that adherence to a regular exercise program can improve muscle strength and this helps to a significant improvement in RT. Impairment in muscle strength, stability, and balance alters the RT.[7]

Normally RT evaluations are tested in a standard position, evaluation in functional positions are many times ignored. There is a need to analyze the RT in various positions;[8] this can be applied in the clinical testing procedures, which will enable for a better understanding and implementation on normal controls and athletes. The objective of the study is to observe the RT in sitting and standing postures among typical young adults.

 Subjects and Methods

Sixty-five typical young Indian adult men and women from a college in Mysore who were able to comprehend and respond to commands were included in this study. Typical young adults included in the study were those who exhibited normal traits of a type, class, or group and with strong individuality of age between 18 and 24 years.[9] Participants with recent musculoskeletal injury or fracture, neuromuscular dysfunction, or disease were excluded from the study. Forty-three women and twenty-two men were recruited for the study, and the procedure was carried out in selected two functional positions, sitting and standing.


Ruler drop method (RDM) was selected to test RT in sitting and standing positions. The RDM is simple and easy to administer. The RDM is one of the valid tests which have shown moderate-to-good degree of validity.[10],[11]

The participants were positioned in a comfortable sitting upright posture with eyes looking forward toward the ruler [Figure 1]. A standard wooden 30-cm metric ruler was used for the study. Participants positioned the forearm so that it extends over the edge of the table with shoulder in neutral position and elbow at 90° of flexion. The thumb and index fingers of the dominant hand were positioned on either side of the bottom end of the vertically placed ruler with 0 cm on the bottom and 30 cm at the top. The examiner held the ruler vertically; the thumb and index fingers of the participants' hand were aligned with 5-cm distance.[11],[12] Demonstration and a practice session with five repetitions were incorporated before the procedure.[13] The examiner held the ruler at the height of 2 cm above the participants' fingers. The examiner held the ruler at the height of 2 cm above the participants' fingers. The participant being active, the ruler was dropped instantaneously without any commands or signs. The value was recorded in centimeters at the point of the catch. Best of 5 trials is taken with a rest period of 2 min. The lesser the number, the faster is the RT. The time taken (t) was calculated using the following formula: t = √d/(490 cm/s2), derived from the following formula: d = ½ gt2, where t is time, d is distance, and g is acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s2). The conversion formula was used to make the calculation simpler and to pair the units used in centimeters. The same procedure was carried out in standing position using a participant's dominant hand and RT was recorded [Figure 2]. The order of sitting and standing positions was randomly assigned and the tests were conducted on the same day with 10 min of rest time in between these two positions.[13],[15] All observations were carried out in the day between 9 am and 5 pm inside a room with sufficient lighting and ventilation. The participants were instructed to maintain an erect posture in both standing and sitting postures, and they were given feedback about any postural deviation, especially stoop posture. Postural instruction was incorporated during the practice session. The statistical analysis for the significance was carried out with the data was entered in excel sheet and analyzed using SPSS version 22. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}


The collected data were analyzed by calculating the mean, standard deviation (SD), and tested for significance using paired t-test. A total of 65 participants underwent “RT test in sitting and standing postures.” [Table 1] shows the demographic parameters with the number of participants, mean age, height, and weight.{Table 1}

The RT analyzed for 22 men in sitting posture showed excellent RT in comparison with the norms adapted by Davis (2000)[10],[16] [Table 2], with a mean of 0.119 ± 0.045 and 0.093 ± 0.038 in sitting and standing postures, respectively. Women (n = 43) in sitting posture had an above-average RT with mean 0.140 ± 0.031 and in standing an excellent RT with a mean of 0.109 ± 0.032; the comparison of the group results is shown in [Table 3]. Men had better performance when compared with women, both in standing and sitting postures. Both the groups had an above-average performance in comparison with the norms [Table 2], but there were significant differences between the standing and sitting postures [Figure 3]. [Table 4] shows the paired test showing mean and SD of the RT in sitting and standing postures with its significance. Observations in standing posture had faster RT when compared with the sitting posture.{Table 2}{Table 3}{Figure 3}{Table 4}


The study was carried out to determine the correlation between sitting and standing RT in young adults. The result of the present study showed that the RT is reduced in standing position than in sitting position in young adults. The strength of the study is that there were practice sessions and repetitions that were incorporated in the testing procedure. Conducting more number of test trials in standing and sitting positions was carried out, enabling for obtaining a better evaluation. Allowing repeated test sessions till the participants reach the performance levels may limit the practice effects on performance.[11] In our study, the RT appeared to be faster in standing posture than in sitting posture, stating an advantage of standing posture over sitting in the preparedness of the muscles. Different upright sitting postures result in different trunk muscle activation patterns; similarly, core stability of the spine may play a role in the activation of upper limb to complete the desired function.[17] There is a need to evaluate the position of the body with respect to the postures, which may give a better overview of the preparedness of the muscles in standing posture when compared to that in sitting posture; the preparedness effectiveness on RT was beyond the scope of our study. In our study, we incorporated to maintain an erect posture in both standing and sitting postures; stoop posture was not encouraged and a feedback was given during the instruction and practice sessions.

In perspective to the results of the auditory RT that is faster than visual RT[3] conceivably, the differences noted in RDM likely are in respect to the visualization as proved by some previous studies which had kept the ruler out of sight by covering it to eliminate the visual field, where our study used the visualization. In relation to gender observations in our study, the RT in males was faster when compared to females.[5] The observations also support the study done by Balasubramaniam et al., where males showed faster RTs than females.[1] Some of the reasons stated by previous authors were the varying level of sex steroids modifying the axonal conduction affecting the sensory motor association with processing speed at the central nervous system.[18]

This test uses the known properties of gravity to determine how long it takes a person to respond to the dropping of an object by measuring how far the object can fall before being caught. The values of auditory, visual, and whole body RT are significantly less in athletes as compared to healthy controls.[2] Our study compared only the position of sitting and standing, the observation of RT in athletes in their functional positions was out of scope of this study, there are not many studies on the comparison with respect to position; furthermore, studies are required to understand the complexity of this topic in exploring the reasons. Clinical implications through our study strongly suggests for further research in athletes and on patients; the observations obtained can be used as reference in planning a rehabilitation program instituting the RT at various positions among the Indian population. Understanding the RT variance at various postures and among gender is observed in this study, this can be used in clinical evaluation in evaluation and training. The values obtained can be used as a reference for the RDM normative values for the Indian young adults.

Limitation of the study

The men and women were not in equal number. The standing and sitting postures were randomly assigned; sequence of randomization was not followed. The outcome measure to assess the RT was limited only to RDM.


The study concludes that the RT is comparatively reduced in standing posture than sitting posture among the young adults; men have faster RT when compared to women.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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