We recently posted on our Instagram page about a study suggesting that standing on one leg is not only good for your balance, but can be a very accurate indicator of how long you might live. The 12 year, global study examined the relationship between balance and mortality with some incredibly stark findings.
In short, it concluded that an inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds in mid & later life predicts an almost doubling in the risk of death from any cause within the next 10 years.
The study also found that, as a population, our balance is decreasing due to our lifestyles becoming more sedentary.
The good news, though, is that we can improve our balance and, along with it, our chances of living for much longer.
Everybody Needs Good Balance
Balance is an incredibly important part of our everyday life. In fact, it is the often underrated key player in our day to day functioning.
Good balance keeps us standing upright, ensures we can walk without assistance and stops us falling over and doing our bodies untold damage.
We often take good balance for granted but without it we would find it impossible to climb steps, negotiate uneven ground, walk on grass or sand and casually step over obstacles.
Age Does Affect Balance
Unlike strength and flexibility, balance tends to stay pretty well intact until we are in and around our 60’s. At this point, however, it can deteriorate quite quickly if not kept in check.
As we age, balance becomes more of an issue and plays an enormous part in the frequency of falls and injuries sustained by elderly people. In fact, aside from car crashes, falls are the biggest cause of accidental deaths in the world and many falls happen as a result of balance failure.
Improving our good balance will not just make us more stable, it can lead to a more active life in later years and, as the study suggests, can markedly increase our life expectancy. Research has shown that good balance in older life can also lead to a better quality of life as it opens up the possibility of us becoming engaged in more fulfilling activities, both socially and physically.
Work On The Wobble
One of the best and most simple ways to improve our balance is to spend more time simply standing up. The more we sit the less we use the muscles required for balance, and the more they will deteriorate and lose their function. If we can combine standing with some simple balance exercises we’ll reap the rewards later in life.
As we get older the balance structures in our inner ear start to deteriorate and even the amount of blood flowing to our inner ears begins to change. So the odds are stacked against us.
But the more we practice the one leg stand the better we will become at it.
Have A Go At ..
...standing on a wobble board. These are fantastic bits of exercise kit designed to improve our posture, core and stability muscles, all of which are needed when balancing.
Alngside this, try standing with your shoulders feet width apart within touching distance of the wall or a chair for stability if you need it.
Raise your right leg up to hip height (as if you’re marching).
Lower it and do the same for the other side. With this move you are practicing the single leg stand.
Repeat it 10-20 times and increase the speed if you can.
Once you can do this with no support at all, you should try a simple single leg stance, working towards that 10 second goal. Don’t be afraid of the wobble - that’s fine. In fact the more you wobble, the more your body and brain will start to learn and adjust to strengthening and improving your balance.
Want to make it harder? Keep your eyes fixed on a point in the room to stop you falling over. If you can do the single leg stance with your eyes closed, then you’re absolutely winning!
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