If you are over 50, take the time to do this simple test: try to balance on one leg for about ten seconds by placing your free foot on the back of the opposite leg, without leaning on any support . Can you do it? Good for you. If not, it may be a sign of early mortality, reports the Guardian.
This admittedly anxiety-provoking news is based on the findings of an international research team led by Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo of Clinimex, exercise medicine clinic in Rio de Janeiro.
Over a period spanning from 2008 to 2020, the researchers asked 1,702 people aged 51 to 75 to perform this test (three trials were granted to them). According to the conclusions of their study published on June 21, 2022 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, one in five adults failed to keep their balance.
Of the participants who failed the test, 123 died of various causes over the next decade. The researchers concluded that failing to stand on one leg for ten seconds “was associated with an 84% increased risk of death”explains the British newspaper.
A useful examination during routine visits
If this study has its limits, in particular because it does not seek to establish the cause of these failures and that the participants were from a single ethnicity (Caucasian Brazilians), it is not the first time that the lack of balance appears to be linked to health problems. Previous research has shown that the inability to balance could be associated with more serious risks of stroke or dementia, recalls the Guardian.
Yet, balance tests are rarely performed during examinations of the elderly. The researchers therefore felt that such a test should be systematically included in routine visits to the doctor. This examination could then offer “useful information regarding mortality risk in middle-aged and older men and women”.