Can you balance on one leg for 10 seconds? It might be important. A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine is highlighting balance as an indication of overall health, and you might be surprised at the findings. Read on for specifics, plus tips from the certified personal trainers at Framework Personal Training in Reno for improving your balance.
From the Study
Between 2008 and 2020, researchers assessed just over 1,700 people between the ages of 51 and 75. Specifically, they looked at participants’ ability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds. They were asked to rest the free leg on the back of the standing leg, with arms to the side, and had three chances to successfully complete the task.
Roughly 20% of participants couldn’t maintain their balance in this position for the full 10 seconds, a number that increased with the age of the participants:
- Ages 51-55: 5% failure rate
- Ages 56-60: 8% failure rate
- Ages 61-65: 18% failure rate
- Ages 66-70: 37% failure rate
- Ages 71-75: 54% failure rate
Participants who failed at the test at any age were more likely to have higher body weights, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. Researchers adjusted for factors including existing health conditions, age, and gender, and estimated that participants who couldn’t successfully stand on one leg for 10 seconds were associated with an increased risk of death over the next seven years to the tune of 84%!
It’s not just that poor balance is tied to a greater risk of falling, though that does play a role. Rather, it’s what poor balance indicates about overall health that’s so interesting. It can be a sign of poor muscle strength, poor coordination, or medical issues like peripheral neuropathy or illness.
Building stability and strength is the best way to improve balance, and that comes from physical activity. At Framework Personal Training in Reno, we specialize in fitness over 40, and we work closely with many older adults to improve their physical health (which has a big mental health payoff!). It’s never too late to live an active lifestyle, and the biggest hurdle for many older adults is simply knowing how to get started. If you’re in Reno, contact Framework Personal Training today to see how our certified trainers can help.