Studies show that the ability to maintain balance is linked to longevity

A simple balance test may be useful for inclusion in daily physical exams for middle-aged and older people, a study published in the British Journal of Sports on Tuesday. Medicine, recommendation.
Although aging leads to a decrease in physical fitness, muscle strength and flexibility, the balance is well maintained until the age of 50, when it begins to decline relatively quickly, the study said. Previous studies have linked inability to stand on one leg to the risk of falling and cognitive impairment.

A 1702-year-old man took part in the study Between 51 and 75 living in Brazil required balance on one leg during the initial examination. Researchers asked participants to place the front of the bare foot behind the standing leg, hold the arms on either side, and keep the eyes straight forward. He was allowed to try three times with both feet.

Maintaining balance with one leg is important for older people for a number of reasons, and this reflects a broader level of fitness and health, says study author Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo Exercise Medicine Clinic – CLINIMEX – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We always need … one-legged posture, getting out of the car, climbing or descending stairs or stairs, etc. Losing autonomy, resulting in less exercise and snowballing,” he explained.

Poor balance and longevity

The mean age of the study participants was 61, and two-thirds were male. Approximately 1 in 5 people were unable to maintain balance on one leg for 10 seconds during the initial examination.

Researchers monitored participants for seven years after an initial examination, during which 123-7% of those surveyed died. The proportion of deaths among those who failed the test (17.5%) was significantly higher than the mortality rate (4.5%) among those who managed to maintain balance in 10 seconds.

The study found that those who failed the balance test had a 84% higher risk of death from any cause. and this connection was maintained in the presence of other factors – including age, sex, BMI and previous conditions or health risks such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes – were taken into account.

However, the researchers were unable to include other changes in their analysis, such as a recent history of falls, physical activity, exercise or sports practice, diet, smoking, and the use of drugs that can upset the balance.

The study was observational and did not reveal the cause-and-effect. The study did not consider possible biological mechanisms to explain the link between poor balance and longevity.

Dr. Navid Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow, said the study was interesting but not conclusive.

“Because standing on one leg requires a good balance of brain function, good muscle strength and good blood flow, it connects the musculoskeletal and cerebral systems, so it is a global test of future mortality – albeit raw,” Sattar said. who did not participate in the study.

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“If someone is worried about not being able to do 10 seconds, they should be endangering their health,” he said.

“If they realize they can do better, they can try to positively change their lifestyle, such as walking more and eating less – most people don’t appreciate the importance of lifestyle to health,” he said. “However, they can consult a doctor if risk factors for cardiovascular disease have not been measured or if they have other chronic conditions such as diabetes.”

Improving balance

Overall, the study found that those who did not pass the test had a higher proportion of people with poor health, obesity and / or heart disease, high blood pressure and a healthy fat profile. Type 2 diabetes is also common among those who do not pass the test.

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The study ran from 2009 to 2020 and was part of an extensive research project that began in 1994.

Inability to complete the balance test increased with age and more or less doubled between the ages of 51 and 55 over the next 5 years. forward. More than half of those surveyed (approximately 54%) between the ages of 71 and 75 did not complete the test, and 5% of the youngest did not.

There were no clear trends in mortality or differences in the causes of death between those who were able to complete the test and those who were unable to do so.

Araujo said that balance can be significantly improved through special exercises, and this is something he worked with patients involved in a medically supervised exercise program. However, he said he did not yet have the data to assess whether the improvement in balance had an impact on longevity.

If you want to test your ability to balance on one leg for 10 seconds, Araujo advises that it is best to stand close to a wall or table or other person for support.

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