It would not be wrong to say that having a good balance is important in life. And as we age, improving our physical balance helps us to do things we like to do in a proper way. We can control our body movements and also prevent any form of injury. However, did you know that being able to balance the body on one leg for 10 seconds could mean you might be able live a longer life? Well, a new research says so about middle-aged people.
How is balance linked to longevity of life?
As per a recent report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, older adults who failed a 10-second balance test of standing on one foot have nearly twice the chances of dying in the next 10 years.
While we can practice aerobic fitness, flexibility and muscle strength only during the prime years of our lives, a great body balance is even preserved till the late 50s, which is when it starts to wane rapidly. Hence, the inability to stand on one leg means more risk of falls and cognitive decline.
Being able to balance on one leg is also reflective of wider fitness and health levels in older adults. “We regularly need … a one-legged posture, to move out of a car, to climb or to descend a step or stair and so on. To not have this ability or being afraid in doing so, it is likely related to loss of autonomy and, in consequence, less exercise and the snowball starts,” explains study author Dr Claudio Gil Araújo at Exercise Medicine Clinic – CLINIMEX – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Poor balance and longevity
The study further claims that individuals who were unable to pass the balance test were 84 percent higher risk of death from any cause, considering all factors including age, sex, Body Mass Index, and pre-existing health conditions like coronary artery disease, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. Albeit, factors like pattern of physical activity, exercise or sports practice, diet, or smoking, were not taken into consideration and there is no clarity how it may interfere with balance.
Is there really a direct link?
Dr. Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine in the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow, however, said the study findings are not refined to be universally applied.
“As one leg standing requires good balance, linked to brain function, good muscle strength and good blood flow, it likely integrates muscular, vascular and brain systems so it is a global test of future mortality risk — albeit crude,” he says, although he wasn’t involved in the study.
What can be done to improve balance?
The idea of living a longer life and maintaining a good body balance certainly is a life-long commitment. One can try:
- Walking more
- Eating mindfully
- Giving importance to a better lifestyle and health
- Analyzing risk factors of cardiovascular diseases or other chronic conditions
Overall, as per the study, there were no clear trends in patterns of deaths, or differences in the causes of death, between those who could stand on one leg for 10 seconds and those who weren’t able to do so.
But you could always test your own ability to balance as there’s no harm.