Balance on one leg should be included in midlife health checkups, the researchers said.
A new study found that people who can’t stand on one leg for 10 seconds have a higher risk of death within seven years.
Asking people to perform the Flemish-style balance test provides “useful information about mortality risk in middle-aged and older men and women,” the researchers said.
The team of global researchers, including experts from Bristol Medical School, examined data from 1,702 people aged 51 to 75 in Brazil.
When participants signed up for the study, they provided various medical details and, as part of a health check, were asked to stand on one leg for 10 seconds without any additional support.
To standardize the assessment, subjects were asked to remove their shoes and socks and place the front of their free foot on the back of the opposite lower leg, while keeping their arms at their sides and staring. in front.
They were allowed three attempts.
One in five people (20%) failed the test, and the inability to do so increases with age: 54% of 71-75 year olds were unable to balance on one leg for 10 seconds compared to only 5% of people aged 51 to 75. 55 years old, 8% from 56 to 60 years old, 18% from 61 to 65 years old and 37% from 66 to 70 years old.
People who failed the test were more likely to be older, overweight, and more likely to have a diagnosis of diabetes.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, followed the participants for several years.
Follow-up after seven years
After an average follow-up time of seven years, 123 people had died, or 7% of the participants.
About 17.5% of the people who failed the test were among those who had died, compared to 4.6% of those who passed.
After accounting for several factors, the researchers concluded that the inability to stand unsupported on one leg for 10 seconds was associated with an 84% increased risk of death during the follow-up period.
“Using the static balance test routinely in adults with a wide age range and various clinical conditions, the test has been remarkably safe, well received by participants and, importantly, easy to incorporate into our routine practice, as it requires less than a minute or two to apply,” they wrote.
They concluded that the 10-second balance test “provides rapid and objective feedback to the patient and healthcare professionals regarding static balance,” and that the test “adds useful information about mortality risk in middle-aged men and women.” old and older”.
“There is potential benefit to including the 10-second single-leg stance (test) as part of the routine physical examination in middle-aged and older adults.”