man standing on one foot

A peer-reviewed study conducted by Brazilian researchers says your inability to balance on one foot for ten seconds means you’re twice as likely to die in the next 10 years. 

Wait, what?

Yep. The study suggests your ability to balance on one foot points to longer life expectancy. The peer-reviewed study, published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, determined that a person’s balance ability can be preserved into one’s sixties, meaning it’s a broader indicator of life expectancy across age ranges than aerobic fitness, flexibility, or muscle strength. 

How valid is this? 

The lead author of the study is a sports and exercise physician at the Exercise Medicine Clinic Clinimex in Rio de Janeiro. He notes that poor balance is linked to frailty in older adults, and one’s musculoskeletal fitness is a prime indicator of declining health. “If you are younger than 70 years, you are expected … to successfully complete the 10 seconds,” he said. “For those older than 70 years of age, if you complete it, you are in better static balance status than your age-peers.” 

How was the study conducted? 

Researchers in the study zeroed in on 1,702 participants from ages 51 to 75 for the study, with the average age set at 61. Only individuals who could walk steadily were included in the analysis. Participants were all asked to stand on one leg for 10 seconds without holding onto anything for support. One in 5 failed the test. 

The inability of participants to pass the balance test increased with age, while those with weight problems or diabetes were more likely to fail. The researchers cautioned that the study has its limits. As the participants were all white Brazilians, the findings “might not be more widely applicable to other ethnicities and nations.”

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