If you don’t pass this balance test, the study doubles your chances of dying in 10 years.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Is the key to longevity better? According to new research, middle-aged people who can’t stand on one leg for 10 seconds are twice as likely to die in ten years. Brazilian scientists say a simple and safe balance test should be part of a daily health checkup for older people.

In contrast to aerobic fitness, muscle strength and flexibility, a person’s balance remains relatively stable until the age of 50, after which it begins to deteriorate rapidly. Researchers say balance testing is not a normal part of regular check-ups for middle-aged people, because there is no standardized test available and there is little solid data linking it to injuries or illnesses other than falls.

The Clinimex Medicina do Exercicio team wanted to know if a balance test is a reliable indicator of a person’s risk of death from any cause over the next decade, and whether this test should be part of a daily health check.

They used participants in the 1994 CLINIMEX Exercise study to assess the link between various physical activity measures and health and risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

A current study has been published British Journal of Sports MedicineBetween February 2009 and December 2020, the first survey included more than 1,700 participants aged 51 to 75 years (average age 61). About two-thirds (68%) were men.

All 3 seniors failed the balance test

The authors measured the weight of each person, the thickness of the skin folds and the size of the waist several times. They also collected details of their medical history. Only regular walkers participated in the experiment.

During the test, participants were forced to stand on one leg for 10 seconds without any additional support. They were asked to place the front of the bare foot on the back of the opposite lower leg, and the gauze was fastened straight forward, holding both hands. Researchers allowed each person to try three times with both feet.

One in five (20.5%) failed the test, and this percentage increased with age – doubling at the age of 51 over a five-year period. Nearly five percent of those between the ages of 51 and 55 failed. Eight percent are between the ages of 56 and 60. Eighteen percent failed between the ages of 61 and 65, and one-third (37%) failed between the ages of 66 and 70.

More than half of those 71 to 75 did not pass the test, which is 11 times less than those under 20 years of age. During the seven-year monitoring period, 123 (7%) people died.

The risk of death exceeds 80 percent!

Thirty-two percent of these deaths were due to cancer, 30 percent to cardiovascular disease, nine percent to respiratory disease, and seven percent to COVID complications. There were no definite temporal trends in mortality or differences in cause between those who were able to complete the test and those who were unable to do so.

However, the proportion of those who did not pass the test was much higher: only 4.5 percent compared to 17.5 percent. In general, the health of those who did not pass the balance test deteriorated. Many had obesity, heart disease, or high blood pressure and were high in fat.

Type 2 diabetes was three times more common in this group, with around 38 percent vs. 13 percent of those tested. Taking into account age, gender, and basic health conditions, the inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds increased the risk of death from any cause over the next decade by 84 percent.

“This observer cannot study and determine the cause,” said the study’s author, Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo, according to the South West News Service. “All participants were white Brazilians, and the results could not be widely applied to other nationalities and peoples.”

“There was no information on potential risk factors, including recent history of falls, level of physical activity, diet, smoking, and medication use that could interfere with balance.”

“The 10 second balance test provides quick and objective feedback to patients and healthcare professionals regarding static balance,” the researchers told SWNS. “The test adds useful information about the risk of death in middle-aged and older men and women.”

South West News Service writer Danny Halpin contributed to this report.

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