Human balance, or lack thereof, can be a reliable proxy that reflects a person’s health and potential underlying conditions. Recent research on more than 1,700 middle-aged and older subjects found that those who couldn’t balance on one leg for 10 seconds had a much higher death rate than those who could.
Similar to how a police officer might ask you to step out of the vehicle and perform a balancing task to see if you’re intoxicated, this simple 10-second balance test could be employed by doctors as a quick pre-screening, before performing more in-depth investigations for a diagnosis.
“The 10 second balance test provides rapid and objective feedback for the patient and health professionals regarding static balance and that the test adds useful information regarding mortality risk in middle-aged and older men and women,” said lead author Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo from the Clinimex exercise medicine clinic in Rio de Janeiro.
As we age, the body starts to gradually deteriorate. We can’t keep weight off as easily into our forties, our bones become more brittle due to less calcium absorbed from food, the muscles lose mass and become weaker, and our senses, such as sight and hearing, begin to deteriorate. But research suggests that balance tends to be reasonably well preserved until the sixth decade of life.
From age 60, our balance starts deteriorating rapidly too. However, if you’re in your forties and you have difficulties balancing on one leg, that may be cause for concern. [Continue reading…]