Can you balance on 1 foot?
Are you able to balance on one foot for 10 seconds? A British Journal of Sports Medicine study shows that could help predict how long you will live.
According to the study, the inability to balance on one foot is associated with an 84 percent higher risk of death over the next seven years. Those who were unable to balance on one foot were more likely to have a medical history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity. People diagnosed with diabetes were three times more likely to be in this group as well.
“We know that fitness level does correlate with mortality and morbidity,” explains Dr. Lakshpaul Chauhan, geriatric medicine physician at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. “When we talk about fitness level, we are looking at how strong a person is, how well their balance is and we know that for any kind of disease like hypertension and diabetes that it does correlate with activity level.”
Lack of physical activity can be linked to frailty or in other words, weakness.
“We know that multiple medical conditions such as a low BMI and low functional status can increase a person’s frailty and that does increase mortality,” says Dr. Chauhan.
Over your lifetime, the ability to stand on one foot naturally dissipates. Participants in the study who were in their 50s were more likely to pass the balance test than participants in their 70s.
Although this test is not a common practice, the ‘get up and go’ or ‘tug test’ is commonly performed at primary care offices for those 65 and older. Starting in a seated position, you get up out of the chair, walk 10 feet, turn around, walk back and sit down again. You pass the test if you perform the routine in under 15 seconds without any issues. If you fail the test, you have a higher fall risk and typically are less physically active.
Did you fail the balance test? The good news is that you can take action now. Those who are younger should notify their doctor if they notice any issues with their balance as it may be the result of an underlying health issue. Dr. Chauhan also encourages you to increase your physical activity such as going on more walks.
About the Author
Anna Kohler, health enews contributor, is a public affairs specialist for Advocate Aurora Health. She received her bachelor of science in public relations from Illinois State University and has worked in healthcare public relations for over three years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, exploring new places with her friends and family and keeping up with the latest trends.