According to a new study, people who cannot stand on one foot for 10 seconds have a more than 80% chance of dying within a decade.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that a person's ability to maintain balance could last into the sixth decade. This means that balance is a more universally helpful indicator of life expectancy than aerobic fitness, flexibility, or muscle strength.
In this research, scientists covered almost 1,700 individuals between the ages of 51 and 75 (average age of 61) during their first check-up between February 2009 and December 2020. Two-thirds (68%) were men.
Researchers measured each participant's weight, body density, and waist size multiple times.
Participants were instructed to stand on one leg for 10 seconds without any additional assistance as part of the examination.
A total of 348 participants, or around 20.5%, did not pass the exam. The difficulty did increase with age, about doubling at subsequent 5-year intervals from the ages of 51 to 55.
Nearly 5% of people aged 51 to 55, 8% aged 56 to 60, 16% aged 61 to 65, and just under 37% of people aged 66 to 70 could not stand on one leg for 10 seconds.
The risk of death increases by more than 80 percent
According to the study, after controlling for age, gender, and underlying illnesses, the inability to stand freely on one leg for 10 seconds was linked to an 84% increased chance of dying from any cause during the next decade.
There were no significant temporal trends or differences in the causes of death between individuals who passed the exam and those who did not.
However, the mortality percentage in test-failure groups was far higher: 17.5% compared to just 4.5%. The general health of individuals who failed the balancing test was worse.
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