For older people, maintaining a brief balance with one foot can predict how long they will live.
According to a report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on Tuesday, people who failed a 10-second balance test with one leg were twice as likely to die in the next 10 years.
In contrast to aerobic fitness, flexibility and muscle strength, Brazilian researchers found that balance is maintained until the sixth decade of life, after which it declines sharply.
It is not yet clear why imbalances can predict the risk of death, says the study’s lead author, Dr. Claudio Gil Soares de Araujo, a sports and exercise physician and director of research and education at the Exercise Medicine Clinic-CLINIMEX in Rio de Janeiro.
However, poor balance and musculoskeletal fitness may be linked to the weakness of older people, Araujo wrote in an email.
“Older people are at greater risk of falling,” Araujo wrote. “This could play a role in the high risk of death.”
Checking the balance with one foot, even for those few seconds, can be a valuable way to determine if someone is at risk of falling. A 2019 report shows that the number of deaths in the United States over the age of 75 is rising.
“Remember, we always have to stay on one leg, get out of the car, go up or down the stairs or stairs, and so on,” Araujo said.
Araujo and his colleagues have previously studied the link between mobility and longevity. A 2016 study showed that the ability of people to sit on the ground and then stand without using their hands or knees can predict their risk of death over the next six years.
How does balance predict longevity?
Araujo and his team reviewed data from the 1994 CLINIMEX Exercise cohort study to see if the balance test could understand a person’s risk of dying from any cause in the next decade. deterioration of health and risk of death.
For the new report, researchers focused on 1,702 participants aged 51 to 75 years – mean age 61 – in the first study that collected weight, waist size and body fat. Researchers included only people who were able to emphasize consistently in their analysis.
In the first test, participants were asked to stand on one leg for 10 seconds without holding anything. Participants who were allowed to try three times were asked to place the front of the food they were carrying on the back of the weight-bearing leg, hold their hands on either side, and place the gauze straight in front of them.
In general, one in five failed the test.
Researchers have found that the risk of failing a test increases with age. In general, those who did not pass the test were in worse health than those who did not, and many were obese, had cardiovascular disease, and had low blood cholesterol levels. Type 2 diabetes was three times more common among those who did not pass the test than those who did.
Taking into account factors such as age, gender, BMI, history of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, the researchers found that participants who did not pass the balance test had a 1.84-fold higher risk of death in 10 years.
The good news, Araujo said, “It’s never too late to improve your balance with a special workout. A minute or two a day – at home or in the gym can help a lot.”
Studies like this provide a scientific basis for making decisions about the types of measurements that can help assess how well a person is doing physically, Dr. said. John W. Rowe is a professor of health policy and aging at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
During exercise, doctors usually check people’s hearts, lungs, cholesterol, and blood pressure. But most of the time, they don’t measure what people look like, Rowe said.
If a doctor diagnoses a patient with a balance problem, a program may be prescribed to help improve fitness and balance.
“If a doctor asks a patient to stand on one leg and the patient says,‘ What’s good about this, ’the doctor can say that there is an article that shows how long this life can be predicted,” Rowe said.