We rely on a good sense of balance to perform just about any type of physical activity.
It’s even essential for avoiding the No. 1 cause of injury and death (from injury) among older adults…
Yet, it’s often ignored. And rarely ever addressed during annual check-ups.
Fortunately, there’s a 10-second test that can assess your balance… AND your longevity.
10-second longevity predictor
In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers looked closely at the connection between balance and death risk in nearly 2,000 men and women between the ages 51 and 75.
First, they asked the participants to stand on one leg for 10 seconds WITHOUT holding onto anything to support themselves. (They also had to keep their arms at their sides and keep their gaze fixed straight ahead.)
Researchers recorded the results and continued tracking participants for an average of seven years.
Overall, about 20 percent FAILED the initial balance test. And as you might expect, performance declined with age.
Not only that, but the folks who failed the test had nearly DOUBLED the risk of DYING during the seven-year follow-up period.
And even after the researchers accounted for other factors that could have influenced outcomes—such as age, body mass index (BMI), and high blood pressure—people who failed the balance test still had an 84 percent higher risk of dying within 10 years.
It seems that checking for balance, even for those few seconds, can serve as a valuable tool for assessing fall risk… and longevity.
Engage your core muscles at home
How is YOUR balance?
Even if you’re pretty steady, I believe everyone can benefit from the following exercises…
- Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth. Practice keeping your balance back and forth, alternating legs, until you’re done brushing.
- Walk a “tightrope.” Once daily, practice walking an imaginary tightrope on the floor of your home. Just walk heel to tow very slowly, with your arms extended out from your sides, for about 10 feet. Then, turn around and go back.
- Sit without “flopping.” I know it’s easy to “flop” into your favorite chair, but this habit doesn’t engage your core muscles. Try easing in to—and standing from—the seated position instead.
Now, even if you can’t do much at first, I encourage you to keep practicing. You may also choose to see a physical therapist to help build the strength in your legs and arms.
For additional ways to build your balance at home, and for other lifestyle modifications you can make to further enhance your performance, check out the May issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter.
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“Successful 10-second one-legged stance performance predicts survival in middle-aged and older individuals.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 2022; 56:975-980. doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2021-105360