Middle-aged adults unable to stand on one foot for at least ten seconds face a greater risk of dying within the next ten years, a study found.
The study was published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Taking into account variables such as age and illnesses, the researchers found that those who could not complete the balancing test suffered an “84% higher risk of all-cause mortality.”
The study’s authors concluded this after carrying out health and physical checkups of around 1,700 people aged 51-75 between 2008 and 2020.
As part of the experiment, the physicians would request volunteer participants to stand on one leg, with their free foot resting behind their standing foot, for at least 10 seconds.
Each volunteer had three attempts to balance themselves correctly. During the process, they had to keep their arms to their side.
Around 20.4 percent of the individuals surveyed could not balance themselves on a single foot for ten seconds or more.
When the researchers carried out a median follow-up of seven years of the survey participants, they found that those unable to do the balancing test had a greater death rate than those who could.
Around 17.5 percent of participants who were incapable of standing on their feet for at least ten seconds died within ten years of the test, while only 4.6 percent of participants who could complete the test lost their lives in the decade that followed their examination.
“Within the limitations of uncontrolled variables such as recent history of falls and physical activity, the ability to successfully complete the 10-s OLS is independently associated with all-cause mortality and adds relevant prognostic information beyond age, sex, and several other anthropometric and clinical variables,” the researchers wrote.
The scholars recommended that the 10-second test be part of physical check-ups for elderly and middle-aged adults.
“[T]he availability of simple, inexpensive, reliable and safe balance assessment tools that could help predict survival would potentially be beneficial to health professionals evaluating and treating older adults,” the researchers wrote.
“The test has been remarkably safe, well-received by the participants, and importantly, simple to incorporate in our routine practice as it requires less than 1 or 2 minutes to be applied,” the researchers noted.
“It also gives rapid and objective feedback to both patients and health professionals,” the researchers said, according to Bloomberg News.
Dr. Claudio Gil Araújo, one of the researchers behind the study, described the findings as “awesome,” WebMD reported.
Araújo is the research director of the Exercise Medicine Clinic-CLINIMEX in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“As a physician who has worked with cardiac patients for over 4 decades, I was very impressed in finding out that, for those between 51 and 75 years of age, it is riskier for survival to not complete the 10-second one-leg standing test, ” Araújo said, according to WebMD.
The physician noted that being unable to balance oneself for at least 10 seconds in the test is riskier “than to have been diagnosed as having coronary artery disease or in being hypertensive,” or having abnormal cholesterol, WebMD reported.
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