You learn something new every day. And you may have a lot more days ahead to learn new things — especially if you’ve got a decent sense of balance. A new study says being able to stand on one leg for at least ten seconds might be a good indicator of your life expectancy.
A peer-reviewed study conducted by Brazilian researchers in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that people who can’t maintain their balance on leg for at least ten seconds could be twice as likely to die in the next decade. But people who can balance on one foot are more likely to live longer.
Dr. Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo is the lead author of the study and a sports and exercise physician at the Exercise Medicine Clinic Clinimex in Rio de Janeiro. He says poor balance can be linked to poor health, especially in older adults.
“If you are younger than 70 years, you are expected (as the majority of those at that age) to successfully complete the 10 seconds,” Araújo told USA Today in an email. “For those older 70 years of age, if you complete it, you are in better static balance status than your age-peers.”
Starting in 2008, 1,702 people between 51 and 75 years old and charted their health over a ten-year span using various fit tests. The study controlled for things like age, sex, BMI, history of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, and found that those who failed the balance test had a 1.84 higher risk of death in that time than those who passed. They found a stronger correlation between health and balance than aerobic fitness or even muscle strength.
That said, Araújo warned that the study only goes so far. “This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause,” he emailed USA Today. “As participants were all white Brazilians, the findings might not be more widely applicable to other ethnicities and nations, caution the researchers.”