This 10-second test can help predict if you’ll die early

For older adults, it can predict how long they will live if they can balance on one foot for a short time.

People who failed a 10-second balance test to stand on one foot were nearly twice as likely to die in the next 10 years, according to one study. report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine

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Unlike aerobic fitness, flexibility and muscle strength, balance is usually preserved until the sixth decade of life, after which it declines abruptly, the researchers noted.

Exactly why a loss of balance can predict the risk of death is not yet known, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo, a sports and exercise physician and director of research and education at Exercise Medicine. Clinic-CLINIMEX in Rio de Janeiro. janeiro.

But poor balance and musculoskeletal fitness may be associated with frailty in older adults, Araújo wrote.

“Older people who fall are at a very high risk of serious fractures and other related complications,” Araújo wrote in an email to NBC News

“This may play a role in the higher risk of mortality.”

Checking balance on one foot, even for those few seconds, can be a valuable way to determine a person’s risk of falling.

“Remember that we regularly have to stay in a one-legged stance, get out of a car, climb or descend a step or staircase, and so on,” Araújo said.

Araújo and his colleagues have previously researched the link between exercise capacity and longevity.

A 2016 study found that people’s ability to sit on the floor and then stand up without using their hands or knees for support could predict their risk of death over the next six years.

Maria Fiatarone Singh, of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health, wrote the report along with seven others from Brazil, Finland, the US and the UK.

How does balance predict longevity?

To investigate whether a balance test could provide insight into a person’s risk of death from any cause over the next decade, Araújo and his team revisited data from the 1994 CLINIMEX Exercise cohort study, which examined the associations between physical fitness, cardiovascular risk factors and the risk of ill health and death.

For the new report, the researchers focused on 1,702 participants ages 51 to 75 — mean age 61 — at their first study checkup, when weight, waist circumference and body fat measurements were collected.

The researchers only included people who could walk steadily in their analysis.

At the first control, the participants were asked to stand on one leg for 10 seconds without holding anything to support themselves.

The participants, who were allowed to try three times, were asked to place the front of the lifted food on the back of the weight-bearing leg, keeping their arms at their sides and looking straight ahead.

Overall, one in five failed the test.

The researchers noted that the inability to pass the test increased with age.

Stretching can reduce the risk of injury during exercise. Back view of Asian female runner doing quadriceps doing jogging on trails in city park before morning. Credit: Nitat TermmeeGetty Images

Overall, people who failed the test had worse health than those who passed, with a higher percentage of obesity, cardiovascular disease and unhealthy blood cholesterol levels.

Type 2 diabetes was three times more common in people who failed the test than those who did.

After taking into account factors such as age, gender, BMI, history of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, the researchers found that the risk of death within 10 years was 1.84-fold higher in participants who failed the balance test. .

The good news, Araújo said, is “it’s never too late to improve balance through specific training.”

“A few minutes a day – at home or in a gym can help a lot,” he added.

Studies like these provide a scientific basis for deciding on the types of measurements that help evaluate how well a person is physically functioning, Dr. John W Rowe, a professor of health policy and aging at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, told NBC News

During a physical exam, doctors usually check people’s hearts, lungs, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

But for the most part, they don’t measure what shape people are in, Rowe said.

If a doctor determines that a patient has balance problems, a program may be prescribed to improve fitness and balance.

“And if the doctor asks the patient to stand on one leg and the patient says, ‘What’s in it for you?’ the doctor may say there’s an article showing that it can predict life expectancy,” added Rowe.

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