Ability To Balance A Predictor Of Longevity?
Updated: Sep 5
Can you balance on one foot for 10 seconds? The ability to balance may predict how long you will live.
According to a Jun 2022 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, not being able to stand on one foot for 10 seconds was associated with a higher risk of death from all causes within the next 10 years for people over 50 years old.
Key points at a glance:
Study included over 1700 participants above 50 who could walk steadily.
- Participants were mainly white Brazilians so study may not be widely applicable to other ethnicities and nationalities.
Participants were asked to stand on one leg without additional support
- Posture taken was to place front of free foot on the back of opposite calf while keeping arms by the sides with eyes looking straight ahead.
- Up to 3 attempts were permitted for each foot.
Proportion of people unable to balance on one leg for 10 seconds
51 – 55 year olds: 4.7%
56 – 60 year olds: 8.1%
61 – 65 year olds: 17.8%
66 – 70 year olds: 36.8%
71 – 75 year olds: 53.6%
Those who failed the test generally had poorer health with a higher proportion with higher body weight, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
After accounting for age, sex and underlying conditions, an inability to stand unsupported on one leg for 10 seconds was associated with an 84% heightened risk of death from any cause within the next decade.
Researchers suggest adding this test to one’s regular physical health exam.
While being able to balance will not prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, inability to balance may also be an indicator of weakness associated with underlying disease, injury or inactivity.
The ability to complete this task would also likely indicate a lower risk of falling. According to data from World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide with the greatest number of fatal falls in adults over 60 years old. Falls can also lead to fractures, long hospital stays and increased risk of other injuries.
There are many life situations where we need to balance on one leg such as getting out of a car, climbing and descending stairs and so on. Don’t wait till you are 50 to train your balance. The earlier you start, the more time you have to refine your balancing skills.
Tips for training balance:
Make use of a wall or chair when you are starting out to assist with balance.
Keep your eyes looking forward at one spot.
Maintain steady breathing as it is easy to hold your breath without realizing.
Pay attention to grounding your feet and building the pose upon firm foundations.
Start from shorter durations and slowly build up to longer durations.
Staying active and adding activities such as yoga and taiji into your movement diet provide excellent opportunities to train your balance.
Strengthening your legs, glutes, feet and core can aid in improving balance.
Check out this beginner friendly class to train your balance here. Available for rent for 7 days or access an entire Library of classes including this one with a 7 days free trial. More information here.